WRC

Rally Japan: OMV Kronos leg two summary

Best season result within reach for OMV Kronos Citroen WRT There are highs and lows for the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team at the "Rally Japan" but in the end the positive side wins out. After the 35-year- old OMV driver had found his...

Best season result within reach for OMV Kronos Citroen WRT

There are highs and lows for the OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team at the "Rally Japan" but in the end the positive side wins out. After the 35-year- old OMV driver had found his rhythm on the second day a broken clutch had him drop back again. The Austrian needed all his experience in order to reach the noon service at all. He lies in sixth place after the second leg. But the main goal of the OMV pair remains to cross the finish line in Obihiro in fourth place.

Escape from long stay in the woods

In the early morning hours Manfred Sohl had no problems whatsoever with even the most adverse conditions. Following the retirement of Loeb and Latvala the OMV driver had already moved up to fourth place. But then a broken clutch prevented the top result for now. Stohl: "The problems already started on the second special stage of the day. From then on I had to be fully focused so that the car wouldn't stall during the special stage due to some carelessness or else we would have stayed in the woods forever and a day."

350 metres of heavy labour

And the concentration also mustn't wander on the circa 80 kilometres from the finish of SS 14 to the service. Don't ever stop was the word since the clutch had become useless. Thus the OMV pair "ambled" along in wiggly lines so as to avoid red traffic lights. Stohl: "We had a lot of luck for there was only one red light throughout the whole distance. There we used the starter. But that's a thing you can't do too often." But things only got really hard just prior to the entrance to the time control. When the car simply wouldn't budge anymore Stohl/Minor had to push the 1,3 tons heavy Citroen Xsara WRC slightly uphill for 350 metres. Thus the OMV Kronos Citroen WRT arrived four minutes late for the time control. This meant a 40- seconds-penalty which might have an effect on the race to catch up. Stohl: "This really was no fun anymore but sometimes the fight for seconds gives you superhuman strength." Prior to the 97,33 SS-kilometres long last leg Stohl is only 32,4 seconds behind Matthew Wilson (5./GB/Ford Focus WRC) and 54,1 seconds behind Luis Perez Companc (4./RA/Ford Focus WRC). "This should be manageable if everything goes according to plan", said the optimistic OMV driver.

Loeb keeps the WRC suspenseful

Just like on the first day the Rally Japan remained turbulent on the second leg, too. Last year's winner Sebastien Loeb (F/Citroen Xsara C4) attacked leading Finn Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Focus WRC) and slipped off the road on special stage 13. By his retirement the three-times World Champion keeps the fight for the title suspenseful and currently Marcus Gronholm (Fin/Ford Focus) holds all the aces since he gets to keep his four-points-lead. Jari- Matti Latvala's good performance went equally unrewarded. The Finn also slipped off the road on SS 13 and had to retire while lying in third place. Following this Mikko Hirvonen only had to do what was absolutely necessary and easily controlled Daniel Sordo (E/Citroen C4 WRC) who attacked ceaselessly but gained mere seconds. Henning Solberg (Nor/Ford Focus WRC) lies in secure third place.

Final leg with seven special stages

Not much later than Saturday the final day of the Rally Japan will commence already at 05:40 (local time). Scheduled are seven special stages with a length of 97,33 SPS-kilometres. The presentation ceremony will take place after the final super stage at 15.00 (local time) at the service park Kita Aikoku near Obihiro.

-credit: owrt.com

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Mikko Hirvonen , Henning Solberg , Matthew Wilson , Daniel Sordo
Teams Citroën World Rally Team