WRC

Rally of Great Britain: Subaru leg two summary

At the end of the second day of competition on Wales Rally GB, Petter Solberg holds second place overall, 44 seconds behind the leading Citroen of Sebastien Loeb. Solberg enjoyed another incident-free day on the Welsh gravel stages and his Impreza...

At the end of the second day of competition on Wales Rally GB, Petter Solberg holds second place overall, 44 seconds behind the leading Citroen of Sebastien Loeb. Solberg enjoyed another incident-free day on the Welsh gravel stages and his Impreza WRC2005 ran faultlessly over the day's 103 competitive kilometres. Solberg's team-mates Chris Atkinson and Stephane Sarrazin both retired from the Leg after separate incidents in the morning. Chris will re-start the event tomorrow under Superally regulations, but the damage to Stephane's car was too extensive to allow him to continue.

Stage Reports

SS7 1028hrs Crychan 1 (19.47km)

Leg two of Wales Rally GB started at 0900hrs with a 10 minute service. Ford privateer Jari-Matti Latvala was scheduled to be first on the road, but left service 12 minutes late after detecting an alternator problem. The Finn stopped on the road section to the stage to finish the repairs and eventually started seventh on the road with a two minute penalty. Subaru's Chris Atkinson clipped the apex of a right hand bend seven kilometres from the start line and spun his car. The Impreza WRC2005 slid down a steep slope and came to rest undamaged but 10 feet below the stage. Despite their best efforts, Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall were unable to re-join the road and the pair retired from the Leg. Skoda's British hero Colin McRae experienced problems with his semi-automatic gearshift and switched to a slower manual system, while Henning Solberg spun at a right-hand bend after hitting a pile of logs and damaged the rear left wheel and exhaust of his Focus. He finished the speed test 1m 16s slower than stage winner Loeb, who extended his lead over Petter Solberg by a further six seconds. Ford's Toni Gardemeister did not start the Leg after he was disqualified by Stewards at the end of Leg one for running a car that was four kilograms underweight.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:26.3

SS8 1106hrs Epynt 1 (13.33km)

The fast 13.33km Epynt stage, the highest of the rally, provided a tough test for crews. The route covered some very long downhill adverse-camber corners near the start, before joining onto a new road. Just over six kilometres from the start of the stage Stephane Sarrazin slid straight ahead at a junction and into a bank. His car suffered frontal damage and Stephane retired from the Leg and the rally. Citroen's Loeb set the fastest time for the second consecutive stage to extend his lead over Solberg to just under 20 seconds. The Peugeot duo of Martin and Gronholm were third and fourth respectively, with Martin's time moving him to within two seconds of fifth-placed Duval in the overall classification. Gronholm's charge narrowed the gap to Rovanpera in third overall to under 25 seconds after the Mitsubishi driver suffered a puncture out on the stage.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:20.3

SS9 1141hrs Halfway 1 (18.58km)

The first part of the tricky Halfway stage was run through a forested area with the second part on military ranges. After a very tight hairpin corner near the start, the road swooped downhill to a right hander over a bridge and a couple of jumps in the middle of the wood. Crews then passed through a quarry before a flat out sprint to the finish. Loeb took his third stage win of the day, three seconds ahead of Marcus Gronholm. Loeb's Citroen team-mate Duval was third with Solberg fourth in his Subaru Impreza WRC2005, just under five seconds slower than Loeb. Colin McRae dropped out of the top ten as his protegee Kris Meeke set the tenth fastest stage time to move to tenth overall. After the stage crews headed back to Felindre for a 30 minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:22.5

SS10 1523hrs Crychan 2 (19.47km)

The first stage run after service took crews back to the forests. The section started in a new location this year, but was otherwise identical to 2004. The fast, narrow 19.47km Crychan saw crews soar over some big jumps and water ranges before coming into a tight section nicknamed the 'orange road' on account of the pine needles that cover the ground. The second run of the stage gave much faster times than the earlier morning session, with Loeb taking his fourth stage win of Leg two, almost ten seconds faster than his previous time. Marcus Gronholm continued to hunt down Rovanpera, classified third overall, by setting the second fastest stage time and closing the gap to just over eleven seconds. Subaru's Petter Solberg was third quickest through the speed test and saw the gap to overall leader Loeb grow to 27 seconds. In the battle for fifth overall, Francois Duval extended the gap back to sixth-placed Markko Martin by a further six seconds with fourth fastest stage time.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:17.7

SS11 1601hrs Epynt 2 (13.33km)

Conditions on the second run through Epynt were exceptionally dry, with drivers reporting a dusty, hard, granite-like road. Sebastien Loeb continued his clean sweep of Leg two wins with his fifth fastest time of the day, three seconds quicker than team-mate Duval. Gronholm moved to within seven seconds of Harri Rovanpera with the third-fastest stage time, while Mitsubishi's Galli posted his best stage result of the day in fourth. Petter Solberg dropped a further five seconds to overall leader Loeb.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 7:13.3

SS12 1636hrs Halfway 2 (18.58km)

Loeb was quickest again on the re-run of the Halfway stage. Marcus Gronholm was only three seconds slower than the Frenchman and finally snatched third overall from Harri Rovanpera after the Mitsubishi driver encountered problems with his gearbox. The Finn lost third gear and over half a minute to Loeb. His mechanical problems dropped him to fifth overall as Francois Duval also edged ahead. Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl negotiated the stage in the fourth quickest time, ahead of Petter Solberg. The Subaru driver finished the stage eleven seconds behind Loeb as the gap to the rally leader was extended to just under 45 seconds.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:15.8

SS13 1859hrs Cardiff Spectator Stage (1.1km)

For the first time ever, World Rally Championship cars ran undercover. The fully retractable roof on Cardiff's Millennium Stadium was partially closed to provide an electric atmosphere for the 20,000 spectators who filled the stadium. The figure of eight track was run on concrete after the grass was removed on pallets to be stored in a secret location. Owing to unprecedented demand, organisers opened the upper tier of the stadium's seats and the crowd, including the Deputy Lord Mayor of Cardiff, Monica Walsh, watched as local hero Mark Higgins posted the fastest stage time to move into tenth overall. The twisty track provided plenty of entertainment as several drivers hit the barriers, including Roman Kresta, who hit the inflatable arch marking the finish line. Loeb was second quickest, narrowly missing out on taking a clean sweep of stage wins, with Martin third. Petter Solberg finished just over one second behind Higgins in front of co-driver Mills' home crowd.
Fastest Stage Time: Higgins (Ford) 1:03.8

Team Quotes

Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth
Petter's had a good day, but today Sebastien's pace has proved just a bit too much for us. Petter's driven well, we've had no technical problems and the tyres choices have been good. All we can hope now is that we can maintain this kind of pace and keep Loeb under pressure. There is still a long way to go tomorrow and Petter will give it his best shot. Obviously it's been a disappointing day for both Chris and Stephane. The plan was for both of them to start to build their speed a little today. But unfortunately they both succumbed to small but costly mistakes. The extent of the damage to Stephane's car means he will be unable to continue tomorrow, but at least Chris will get the chance to show his speed on the remaining four stages.

Petter Solberg
I've enjoyed the day and overall the feeling in the car is okay but I wish we were able to get closer to Sebastien. I particularly liked the stage inside the stadium - it was great fun and I hope the spectators enjoyed it as much as I did. We're trying as hard as we can out there, going absolutely flat out, but it doesn't seem to be quite enough. Sebastien is doing a good job and we have to work to find some solution to get quicker. I like tomorrow's stages, they're very good and there's still a long way to go, so I won't give up.

Chris Atkinson
Not such a good day. I was on a slow, tightening corner when the front wheel just caught the apex and spun the car around. We dropped off the road a fair way into some bushes and there was no way for us to get back on the stage. It's a shame because before the incident the car and the tyres had felt excellent. We were running at a pace that wasn't far off the guys with much more experience, and when you're pushing harder then sometimes mistakes happen. The one consolation is that the car is absolutely fine and we can re-join the rally again tomorrow.

Stephane Sarrazin
I'm disappointed not to be able to finish this event. It was a simple mistake in one junction; I began to make a right turn when in fact the note was for a left. The car went straight on and the front end was damaged on a low bank. Up until that point things had been getting steadily better. The speed was building and I was getting closer and closer to the competition. Generally though and despite the crash, there are quite a lot of positives to take from this rally, it's still only my third ever gravel event and Denis and I were making good progress. Now we'll concentrate on the next event in Corsica and hopefully a better result.

News From Pirelli

Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
It's been another day of extremely unusual conditions which have not been entirely representative of the expected weather on this event. Petter has done an extremely good job to maintain his position under difficult circumstances so we look forward to him taking a well-deserved podium place tomorrow.

Tomorrow's Leg
Cars leave Felindre Parc Ferme from 0700hrs for a ten minute service. Although Leg three is the shortest day of the event, with only two stages run twice, it has a real sting in the tail. The gruelling 29.39km Resolfen and 27.42km Margam stages are the longest of the event and are run on rocky, twisty ground through forest and parkland to the east of Swansea. The ceremonial finish is scheduled to take place in Cardiff from 14.00.

-swrt-

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team