WRC

Rally Japan: OMV Peugeot leg two summary

The OMV Peugeot Norway WRT do their best * Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor fight extremely slippery conditions * Very satisfied with fifth intermediate place despite problems * Loeb takes advantage of Gronholm mistake and breaks away After...

The OMV Peugeot Norway WRT do their best

* Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor fight extremely slippery conditions

* Very satisfied with fifth intermediate place despite problems

* Loeb takes advantage of Gronholm mistake and breaks away

After the second day of their Japan premiere the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team is still absolutely satisfied. Despite losing one place, their first performance in the land of the rising sun shows that they can keep up with their works opponents. Only the slippery road conditions trouble the OMV duo Stohl/Minor to some extent. Even Marcus Gronholm, who was part of the Peugeot works team last year and won this rally, confirms that these conditions are not exactly the forte of the Peugeot 307 WRC. But in 2005 there was no rainfall.

Fully focussed

Manfred Stohl knew what to expect of the Rally Japan. In the run-up the 34- year-old OMV driver had already predicted surprises to come. And they were not long in waiting. The extremely difficult road conditions demand everything of the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team. Stohl: "At times you think you're on a skating ground. The rain of the last days has made the special stages very slippery. Add to that the less than ideal riding quality of our car on this terrain. There just is no appropriate set-up. Even Marcus Gronholm confirmed that during several talks we had." And the Finn ought to know. After all, he had to deal with the 307 WRC during two years as a works driver. Difficult steering and lacking experience on these stages mean that the OMV Team has to remain fully focussed. Stohl: "It is a real challenge. But I accept it."

Important WRC points

Despite these problems the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team hasn't lost sight of their goal: to score points. Each place among the top eight counts concerning the driver ranking of the FIA World Rally Championship. Stohl: "We are very satisfied with fifth place after the second day at our first Rally Japan. It wouldn't make sense to ride a no-holds-barred attack on Atkinson in front of us. The works Subaru is very fast and Atkinson knows the Rally Japan like the back of his hand. But we'll have to watch out for Petter Solberg. He got faster and faster on Saturday afternoon. It is still a long way to fifth place on the finish ramp. We will have to give our best on Sunday."

Loeb, the flawless

Sebastien Loeb once again lived up to his reputation as a "flawless driver" at the Rally Japan. For 13 special stages, Marcus Gronholm (Fin/Ford Focus) seemed to be on the way to successfully defending his title in Japan. Though the French double World Champion was always close, the Finn remained in front. But then SS 14 sealed his fate. A spin and Loeb immediately put his foot down. He took more risk on SS 14 and 15 and suddenly was 28 seconds ahead of Gronholm. At the end of the day he still had a lead of 25,6 seconds. Mikko Hirvonen (Fin/Ford Focus WRC) lies unchallenged in third place, which he secured by 2:41 minutes ahead of Atkinson after 21 of 27 special stages.

-credit: omv peugeot norway

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Manfred Stohl , Mikko Hirvonen , Ilka Minor