Chris Atkinson continues to lead the Subaru World Rally Team's challenge on the second day of Rally d'Italia Sardegna. With six more stages to run tomorrow Chris holds fifth place overnight. After retiring from the first day of the competition, ...
Chris Atkinson continues to lead the Subaru World Rally Team's challenge on the second day of Rally d'Italia Sardegna. With six more stages to run tomorrow Chris holds fifth place overnight. After retiring from the first day of the competition, Petter Solberg restarted with the primary objective of testing set-ups for the forthcoming gravel rallies. The Norwegian demonstrated the performance potential of the Subaru Impreza WRC2006 by setting four top three stage times and winning SS10 outright.
SS7: 0930 Loelle 1 (25.20km)
The narrow 25km Loelle pass south west of Olbia opened Leg two of Rally d'Italia Sardegna. Overnight leader Marcus Gronholm consolidated his advantage by collecting the first win of the day, just over a second quicker than Sebastien Loeb. Subaru's Petter Solberg, who had restarted after his retirement on Leg one, posted the third best time, over 11secs quicker than next fastest Mikko Hirvonen. Italian Gigi Galli was fifth quickest to jump into fifth overall ahead of young Spaniard Dani Sordo. Skoda driver Harri Rovanpera restarted following his Leg one retirement.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 15:30.8
SS8: 1028 Monte Lerno 1 (31.20km)
The longest stage of the rally provided a dramatic twist as rally leader Marcus Gronholm hit a rock 23km from the start, lost engine oil pressure and retired. Loeb inherited the lead, despite hitting exactly the same rock as Gronholm. Several other drivers also experienced problems through the pass, including Kosti Katajamaki, who hit a stone halfway through and Dani Sordo who reported four punctured tyres. The second test of the Leg included a spectacular jump 21km from the start which launched cars metres into the air. Subaru's Chris Atkinson was one of the highest fliers but a violent nose heavy landing crushed the front end and air-intake of his Impreza. He continued with reduced engine power for the rest of the stage and lost 39secs to stage winner Loeb.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:32.8
SS9: 1113 Su Filigosu 1 (12.28km)
Chris Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall made repairs on the road section to SS9 and unblocked their car's front end. The Australian duo went on to finish the stage in the sixth quickest time, 13secs from stage winner Loeb. Second overall Hirvonen hit a bank close to the end of the speed test and damaged his right rear suspension, while Henning Solberg retired 300m when he ran into a tree. Henning's retirement allowed Galli into third and Sordo into fourth. Petter Solberg continued his objective of testing set-ups for forthcoming rallies and had a clean run through the pass to record the third quickest time.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:17.8
SS10: 1440 Loelle 2 (25.20km)
After a 30 minute service halt in Olbia crews headed south for a repeat of the three morning stages. Petter Solberg had an excellent start to the afternoon as he recorded his first win of the event with a time over 17secs quicker than his earlier run. Team-mate Chris Atkinson however collected two minutes 20secs of penalty time as he checked out of the midday service 14 minutes late. Subaru technicians had worked hard on his car to repair the front end damaged in SS8. In the process, several critical steering components were replaced and the crew used more than their allotted 30 minutes to make sure the car was absolutely safe before it left. Chris dropped to eighth as a result of the delay. Gigi Galli was second fastest through the stage to hold onto third position from Sordo while rally leader Loeb was fourth to extend his advantage over Hirvonen to nearly two minutes. Finnish driver Kosti Katajamaki's difficult rally came to a premature end when he rolled his Ford Focus early in the stage and retired.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 15:22.3
SS11: 1538 Monte Lerno 2 (31.20km)
Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb took his third stage win of the day through the Monte Lerno test. Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo was second fastest, crucially six seconds quicker than Galli in the fight for the final podium position. The Spaniard's time closed the gap to under a second. Subaru's Chris Atkinson began to climb back up the leaderboard after his earlier delays and moved into seventh overall after setting the fifth quickest time.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 20:12.7
SS12: 1623 Su Filigosu 2 (12.28km)
Leg two concluded with the narrow, tree-lined Su Filigosu speed test.
There were two changes in the top ten as Sordo finally took third
position with the third fastest time and Atkinson moved into sixth.
Chris' Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg completed a consistent afternoon
performance with the fourth quickest time. Loeb extended his lead to two
minutes 17secs with one day of competition remaining. There was
disappointment for Gigi Galli after the end of the stage. The Italian
stopped by the side of the road when his Peugeot lost all its oil and the
radiator lost water. Unable to make it back to service, Galli retired
from the Leg.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:06.1
SWRT SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA: Even though our focus today has been on testing and development, we've had a better time on the stages than we did on Friday. Petter's fastest time on SS10 proves that we are capable of challenging the leaders and his performance throughout the day means he's back in the points again. Chris has progressed well and despite incurring two minutes 20secs of penalty time due to necessary repair work after a very heavy impact, he remains in the top five.
PETTER SOLBERG: It's not as exciting as fighting for the lead but I've done my best out there today. We've been able to prove that we're quick when things work well and we've been able to gather data and try some new things. Tomorrow we'll continue to make the most of the opportunity to test.
CHRIS ATKINSON: We've had a good afternoon and managed to claw back some of the time we lost earlier with the jump and the service penalty. After dropping down to eighth we're back up to fifth now. I think it's going to be tough to go any higher but we'll keep pushing tomorrow.
NEWS FROM PIRELLI
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER: Today the performance has been good. We made the right tyre choices for the conditions and Petter demonstrated the potential of the package, it's just unfortunate that he wasn't in a position to take advantage following his retirement yesterday. We have looked at the tyres and believe the punctures were caused by impacts with sharp stones when going sideways through the tight corners. Chris has driven well today and we hope this will continue in the stages tomorrow.