WRC

Rallye Deutschland: Leg two summary

Of the 57 crews that started the rally on Friday, 53 restarted on Saturday morning. Leg two comprised seven stages and 145.94 competitive kilometres. The Leg was run on a mixture of public and military roads, with a Superspecial in the town of St.

Of the 57 crews that started the rally on Friday, 53 restarted on Saturday morning. Leg two comprised seven stages and 145.94 competitive kilometres. The Leg was run on a mixture of public and military roads, with a Superspecial in the town of St. Wendel. The morning started overcast but warm, with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 23°C. The day stayed dry throughout.

Team-mates Sebastien Loeb and François Duval (both Citroen) continued their dominance at the top of the leaderboard. They won all seven stages, Loeb taking five victories to end the leg 27.9sec ahead of Duval, who won two tests. Neither escaped a tough day unharmed though. Loeb survived a high speed spin on the first stage and Duval went off briefly on the same test. Marcus Grönholm (Peugeot) was under no pressure either in front or from behind and drove cautiously to retain third ahead of team-mate Markko Märtin, who went off the road on the opening stage and struggled for grip this morning. Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi) survived two spins this afternoon and is just 2.4sec behind Kresta in sixth. Petter Solberg (Subaru) dropped almost 3min 30sec when a gear selection problem meant he drove all of stage eight in third gear. He is ninth. The only major retirement was Armin Schwarz (Skoda) who broke his car's radiator after crashing on stage eight.

The final day is based on the smooth, flowing roads of the Saarland region, which are predominantly narrow and treacherously slippery in the wet. Drivers face six tests, two of which will be used twice, covering 90.08km. The final stage will be a repeat of tonight's last test through the streets of St Wendel. After leaving Trier at 06.50, competitors finish at Bostalsee at 14.03, before the leading cars return to Trier for the ceremonial finish at 16.30.

Citroen

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and François Duval/Sven Smeets today continued to monopolise the top two slots of the provisional leaderboard after dominating the 2005 Deutschland Rally since the start thanks to a clean sweep of fastest times over all the stages contested so far.

Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "I upped my pace through the cleaner portions," explained Seb, "but took things more carefully wherever there was gravel on the road. A day like today is obviously less fun than when you've got a good fight on your hands. But knowing how to control from in front is part of a rally driver's job. Given the gaps, there wasn't much else to do."

Francois Duval/Sven Smeets: "We tried to be just quick enough without giving too much away," underlined François. "Just enough for the car to still be comfortable to drive and to stay concentrated. It would have been risky for me to try to win at all costs. Sébastien wouldn't have simply stood back and let me pass. To have fought each other wouldn't have made sense. I am really pleased this evening. I feel comfortable with the car and my confidence is back."

Subaru

At the end of the second Leg of competition on Rallye Deutschland, Stephane Sarrazin heads the Subaru charge, holding seventh place overnight with six more stages remaining tomorrow. On his first ever asphalt rally in the Subaru Impreza WRC2005, Sarrazin set three top-five stage times and became one of the few drivers to challenge the dominance of the lead Citroens by setting the second fastest time on SS7. A gear selection problem robbed Petter Solberg of his fourth place and dropped him to 12th overall, but after a spirited recovery he was back up to 9th at the end of the day. Chris Atkinson's asphalt rally debut continued to run without a hitch and with his confidence increasing the Australian ended the day in 13th position.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: On the whole, today was average! We had the gear selection problem this morning that lost us a lot of time and then this afternoon found some small improvements to the setup that will hopefully help for tomorrow. The feeling in the car is now good, and from here we're going to try and get some points - that's the main thing.

Stephane Sarrazin/Denis Giraudet: Today was a good day and we set some good stage times. I didn't have a lot of confidence this morning on the Panzerplatte stages as they are so difficult to drive and inside I was scared to make a mistake, as there is more to lose than win. I'm happy with my progress so far and pleased with my second place on the first stage of the day. Even when I went straight at a corner on the repeat of that stage I still managed a good time! The set up is good and I am pleased to be setting times close with the Peugeots. We are going to continue at the same pace tomorrow and make sure we stay on the road.

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: Tonight I am pretty happy. Today is a definite improvement over yesterday and my confidence too is higher than yesterday. I had struggled a bit as this is just my second day ever on tarmac and the car is so responsive when compared with driving on gravel. I now have a better understanding of the car and have more ability to predict what to do. It's good at times to be just half a second from Stephane's pace, which is encouraging. Tonight I'm going to look at the data and see where we can pick up some pace tomorrow without taking too many risks.

Ford

BP-Ford World Rally team drivers Roman Kresta and Jan Tománek climbed to fifth during today's tough second leg of the Rallye Deutschland. Cheered on by a huge number of fellow Czechs who have made the 700km journey to watch their favourites, Kresta overcame a near-minute time loss this morning when his Ford Focus RS World Rally Car spun off the road. He faces a massive final leg battle tomorrow with Gigi Galli who is just 2.4 seconds behind. Spain's Dani Solà and Xavier Amigo are eighth in a privately-entered Focus RS, having climbed to fifth earlier in the day. But BP-Ford pair Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen dropped more than 20 minutes with an electrical problem on their Focus RS this morning and they are 23rd.

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: Gardemeister, fifth last night, saw his hopes of a points finish end early on the second stage this morning. "About 10km after the start I entered a right corner and suddenly the car just stopped," said the 30-year-old Finn. "I worked on it for almost 20 minutes while talking to our team engineers on the telephone and was able to bypass the problem and start the car again. I lost more seconds because I was then held up by slower cars ahead of me. All I can do now is just drive for a finish. It's not a nice thing to happen but that's the nature of the sport."

Roman Kresta/Jan Mozny: "I was struggling for grip at the front and on a fast left corner I spun and went off the road," said Kresta. "The car went down a bank and it took quite a long time to get back on the road. I don't know why I lost grip but it was disappointing to drop time when other drivers also had problems, because we could have moved up the order. Instead we lost a place." Kresta continued to struggle with poor grip early this afternoon but changes to the suspension geometry before the final group of stages made a big improvement and he moved up to fifth. "Once we made changes to the geometry this afternoon, the car felt much better and the grip improved," he added. "I had a puncture on both stages 11 and 12 and had to drive the final test with a rear left puncture but Michelin's ATS mousse system worked perfectly to keep the tyre inflated and I had no problems. Tomorrow will be a big battle with Galli. I'm looking forward to it and there will be nothing less than maximum attack," promised Kresta.

Daniel Sola/Xavier Amigo: "Before stage 12 I was warming up the tyres when the hydraulic oil leaked away," explained Solà . "I had to select the manual gearshift instead of the semi-automatic version and had no differential pressure for the final two tests. It's disappointing because I was in a strong position. But the pre-rally plan was to learn as much as I can about the car on asphalt and I have done that today. I'm lucky to still be here and I can continue to learn tomorrow. "Today was like a different rally because the roads were so different from those in the vineyards yesterday. I'm still changing some things on the set-up and my braking isn't perfect, but my feeling with the car is improving all the time. It feels more precise now and I'm really pleased with my stage times. I had much more confidence today," added Solà .

Peugeot

As Marcus Gronholm suggested yesterday, the positions of the top three drivers on the Rallye Deutschland seem more or less fixed. Only an incident can now deprive the two Citroens of the lead and Gronholm's Peugeot 307 WRC of a podium. The second Peugeot of Markko Martin made up time today to recover the fourth place lost after clipping a kerb on the opening leg.

Marcus Gronhölm/Timo Rautiainen: "Nothing has changed much since yesterday: to be honest it has been a little bit boring. There is no way that I am going to catch either of the Citroens in front and I am quite safe from behind as well. The car has worked well but I have not really been pushing it today. I think we will end up third tomorrow, but we still have six stages to drive so it is far from over yet."

Markko Martin/Michael Park: "The only thing we can do is keep fourth now, so I have to be happy with that. We made up some places today, but this is where we stop. The only way that we could improve things is to have one or two less Citroens in front – but I doubt that is going to happen! I'm quite glad that it didn't rain today, otherwise the stages would have been incredibly risky."

Skoda

Škoda Motorsport World Rally Team driver Jan Kopecký ended the second leg of Rallye Deutschland in 11th place. However Armin Schwarz retired from eighth place in service after today’s second stage. Jan began steadily today on some of the event’s most demanding stages but by the afternoon was closing in on his rivals with times just outside the top 10 before setting ninth fastest time on the day’s penultimate stage. This brought him to within 10 seconds of tenth place and with every chance of moving further up the order on tomorrow’s final leg. Armin spun off near the end of the Panzerplatte stage, damaging the clutch and pushing the cooling fan into the radiator. By the time he reached service the engine was too badly damaged for him to continue.

Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: This wasn’t how my home rally was supposed to end for me. I’m so disappointed.

Jan Kopecký/Filip Schovánek: The Baumholder stages are very difficult and everyone has had problems getting the suspension right to cope with the high-speed roads and the really vicious dips where the car bottoms out. We had one small scare on SS9 when we had a severe vibration from the mousse in one of our tyres but since then everything has been fine and I’m happy with the result so far.

Mitsubishi:

At the end of the second leg of Rallye Deutschland, the 11th round of the FIA World Rally Championship, "Gigi" Galli and Guido d’Amore continue to lead the assault for Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports. The Italians hold sixth position, having climbed from an overnight eighth, while team-mates Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen are 10th in the second Lancer WRC05.

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "This rally is not so easy, our speed has been quite consistent all day and I am learning about the rally all the time", commented Harri Rovanperä. "Our tire choices have generally been right, apart from first thing this morning when they were too soft. The harder compound has been the right choice since, but the construction felt very hard in the Baumholder stages and the car was bumping more and not following the road so well".

Gigi Galli/Guido D'Amore: Today has been another difficult one, but for sure the repeated stages are easier for me", said Gigi Galli back in Bostalsee. "We made two or three mistakes, which it is better not to do, but generally we did what we planned and maintained the right pace. Our spin in SS 12 was another really scary one and lost us at least 10 seconds, and then on a tight handbrake corner the car stalled and we lost more time. I am quite happy with the way things are going though and the feeling with the car has been good all day".

-rallyenewsletter-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team