WRC

Rally Mexico: Leg two summary

Thirty-seven of the original 38 competitors left Leon parc ferme at 0830hrs. Eight of those had restarted after retiring during Leg one. Leg two included six gravel stages, which were run as a group of three repeated. Based to the north and east...

Thirty-seven of the original 38 competitors left Leon parc ferme at 0830hrs. Eight of those had restarted after retiring during Leg one. Leg two included six gravel stages, which were run as a group of three repeated. Based to the north and east of Leon, the two groups of stages, which totalled 146.48 competitive kilometres, were separated by a 30-minute service

The air temperature was 20C in the morning, rising to 31C by the afternoon. Conditions were sunny all day and the stages were dry gravel.

Petter Solberg (Subaru) controlled his lead over Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot), setting three fastest times to end the day 29.6sec ahead of the Finn. His only worry came on stage eight when his car's engine temperature climbed to 126C. Gronholm again suffered brake problems, and carried new pads in the car which he changed after every stage. Markko Martin (Peugeot) and Francois Duval (Citroen) swapped places twice over the opening two stages in their fight for third. But when Duval retired on the liaison section to stage 10, the result of damaging his engine when he hit a rock on stage eight, the Estonian was able to ease his pace. Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) lies fifth, despite incurring a 90 second penalty this morning when the team changed the engine management system after the car fired up on only three cylinders. Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was fastest on two stages to climb back to sixth after yesterday's four-minute time loss. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) held fifth until he hit a rock and damaged the power steering in stage nine. Just a few kilometres later the right front wheel was ripped from the car after hitting a hole and he retired.

Subaru

Petter Solberg and the new Subaru Impreza WRC2005 lead Rally Mexico tonight after another dominating performance on the event's treacherous gravel stages. Taking another three stage wins, increasing his event total to six, the Norwegian topped the leaderboard all day to end the Leg with a 29.6 second advantage overall. His team-mate Chris Atkinson delivered another remarkable performance aboard his Impreza WRC2005. Making his debut as a points-nominated driver for the Subaru team and competing for only the second time in a WRC car, Chris set a string of impressive times before an incident on SS9 sidelined him for the rest of the day. Chris will re-start the rally again tomorrow.

Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: It's been very good today; it's fun out there! The new car is getting better and better and the feeling is already starting to get really good. I know there's more to come, but we're getting nearer all the time. Today I've been concentrating on keeping at a safe pace, watching the split times and not taking much risk. I'm happy with the lead I've got, but still so many things can have an influence on the final result that I'm not thinking about that yet. Tomorrow I'll try to control the pace with the split times, not take any risks and try to keep that first place - it's very important for the Championship, me and for Mr Kuze.

Chris Atkinson/Glen Macneall: Obviously it's disappointing not to get a result when things have looked so good, but I'm learning a lot and learning pretty fast. It's all good experience for me - even driving with no power steering will help me in the future. Overall, the car felt much better today and the changes we made last night were a good step forward. Tomorrow, I'm hoping we can fine-tune it even more.

Citroen

The Citroën team could be forgiven for believing that it is written somewhere that its two Xsaras are forbidden from tasting success simultaneously in Mexico. Fate was to deal a cruel blow to the Belgian driver, Duval, today when his run came to an end at the beginning of the afternoon while running in the top-four. Earlier in the day, on SS8 ('Duarte/Otates 1'), the crew had felt a big knock underneath the car but the incident had no immediate consequences since they were able to complete the following test (SS9, 'Derramadero/Chichimequillas') at normal speed. Back at the Leon service park, the car's underbody protection effectively showed signs of the impact and was promptly replaced along with the radiator and the front crossmember. However, on the road section out to the first stage of the day's second loop, the engine temperature began to rise and, after consulting the team, Francois and Stephane decided not to start SS10. As permitted by the 2005 regulations, the Xsara was penalised five minutes for each missed special stage, but could attend the evening service. Engineers have undergone thorough checks and pulled out all the stops to allow Francois to restart tomorrow morning.

Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "Some of my rivals have fallen by the wayside and that has obviously helped," he recognised this evening. "Even so, I pushed hard and I am pleased with my day. With yesterday's disappointment behind me, I was very motivated this morning. And as we moved back up the order, that motivation got even stronger. We will see tomorrow whether we succeed in climbing a little further up the leaderboard. The big regret today has been poor Francois. It's a big shame for the team. The stages are very nice; fast and smooth. You can drive quickly and then you come across a concealed stone that suddenly changes the picture-- It's the downside of this rally which is magnificent in all other respects."

Francois Duval / Stephane Prevot: Retired

Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen ended today's second leg of the Corona Rally Mexico in fourth place after a tough day which sidelined several top drivers. Despite continuing to suffer from the 'flu, Gardemeister battled through the six gravel speed tests in his Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to climb from 10th position this morning.

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "The roads were slippery this morning because the cars ahead dragged gravel onto the tracks," said Gardemeister. "It was difficult to set good times because it was so slippery and I couldn't find a good rhythm. I started the last stage of the group with a puncture on the rear left tyre. It had punctured on one of the earlier stages but we had to put it back on the car and it took time for the mousse to warm up. I dropped some time also on the final stage this afternoon. The rear dampers were not working properly and I had to drive cautiously. "I feel quite lucky to be in fourth. I tried to keep the car on the road and out of trouble and it worked. But although the position is good, I'm not happy with my performance. Tomorrow I will try hard to keep my position and I expect a battle with Harri Rovanpera and Sebastien Loeb," added Gardemeister. He will start the final leg 1.4sec ahead of Rovanpera and 36.4sec clear of Loeb.

Roman Kresta/Jan Tomanek: "I was on the right line but I braked in the rocks and a bolt broke on the track control arm," said Kresta. "We fixed it at the end of the stage but the damper had come away from the top mount. It would have caused a lot more damage if I had continued. I wasn't pushing that hard because it is so easy to make a mistake on these roads even when you are driving on the right line. It was a good rally and I was happy with everything until now. I drove at a constant speed and gained good experience of the car on gravel."

Daniel Sola/Amigo: "I approached a right bend in fourth gear and could see that it was cut away on the inside from the first passage this morning," he said. "The front wheel dropped into the hole on the inside and the back spun round and hit a bank. It flipped the car over and I rolled about 30 metres down the road and off the stage. I don't know how many times the car went over but it is badly damaged. I was in a good position and it was a stupid mistake. I'm sorry for the team because they have worked so hard for me all rally."

Peugeot

On the first loop of stages, the Peugeot drivers underlined their strong performance on the opening leg. Marcus Gronholm closed to within 16 seconds of the leader Petter Solberg by setting fastest time on SS8. This stage featured a tough uphill climb, which peaked at a summit of 2500 metres -- proving the strength and power of the Peugeot 307 WRC's engine. Markko Martin go the better of his battle with Citroen driver Francois Duval, pulling out an advantage of 24 seconds. On the second loop of stages the Peugeot drivers consolidated their positions, mindful of team orders to get to the finish at all costs.

Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "In order to solve our recurring brake problems, the team asked us to change brake pads after every stage -- so this has been quite a busy day for me! Nonetheless, this solution worked well, and today I felt a lot more confident than I did on the opening leg. This rally has been a lot trickier than it was last year, as the surfaces are so much harder which puts a bigger demand on the car. I think everybody has had a few problems today, so to still be here is the main thing. Tomorrow my plan is to consolidate my second place and hopefully we can finish with two cars on the podium."

Markko Martin/Michael Park: "We did not have as many brake problems as Marcus, so we were not changing the pads after every stage. We had to keep an eye on Francois Duval, but after he retired the pressure was off us. We will be very happy to finish third tomorrow -- there's no way we can challenge Marcus and there is not a big threat from behind. But we still have to keep concentrated -- there is a long way to go and the last stage, which is 44 kilometres long, will be very tough."

Skoda

Armin Schwarz lies in 9th after the second leg, however, almost a minute behind 8th will be looking to maintain his position. Jani Paasonen lies in 16th.

Armin Schwarz/: Unfortunately a quote has not been made available, check back on our website.

Jani Paasonen/Janni Vainikka: Unfortunately a quote has not been made available, check back on our website.

Mitsubishi

After an eventful leg two of the 2005 Corona Rally Mexico, the Finnish Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 crews of Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen lies in fifth position and team-mates Gilles Panizzi and Herve Panizzi hold eighth place in the second Lancer WRC05.

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "It's been a really tough day. First we got the penalty, then we damaged the sump after a heavy landing in stage eight this morning, so the mechanics changed it in the lunchtime service. The car was feeling quite OK this afternoon so we won't be making any big changes, but tire choice will be difficult for the long stage tomorrow".

Gigi Galli/Guido D'Amore: "The balance today is similar to yesterday but a bit better", commented Panizzi. "I am still fighting to steer when I brake on the line and I can't keep the line even when I can see it. Because of this, I have a little less confidence".

-rallye-newsletter-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team