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...
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 Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen are 10th in the second Lancer WRC05.
"Overall, our two crews did a good job and exactly what we requested," said Isao Torii, Head of Mitsubishi Motor Sports. "Gigi built confidence in the car stage by stage and today's third fastest time was very promising. We didn't have any technical problems and the car has shown good reliability. Tomorrow is another day and, as we have seen, the smallest mistake can change the leaderboard very quickly."
Today's leg took the crews to the military grounds at Baumholder where the majority of the day's competition was fought out. In contrast to yesterday, open spaces and wide asphalt stages draw spectators in their thousands, but the roads remain treacherous as they are lined by concrete tank traps. There are numerous surface changes and even though the weather remained warm and dry, these military stages are renowned for catching out many a crew. The day, which finished with a spectator stage around the streets of St. Wendel, covered seven stages and a total of 145.94 competitive kilometers, the longest leg of the event.
Gigi Galli started the day in eighth position but third fastest in SS7 was a huge confidence boost for the Italian in only his third outing in Germany and second asphalt event with Mitsubishi. Sixth fastest in the following stage aided his assault but the crew also benefited from rivals' problems and climbed to fifth. However, a spin near the start of SS9 lost them precious seconds, dropping them to sixth behind former team-mate "Dani" Solà. Despite re-gaining time on the Spaniard, the Lancer WRC05 crew remained in sixth, overhauled by Ford's Roman Kresta in SS12 after Galli spun. He is however just 2.4 seconds adrift of the Czech.
"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 SS12 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."
Team-mate Harri Rovanpera has had a trouble-free day and also climbed the leaderboard, into ninth, when others around him experienced problems. However, he lost time in the middle of the day being over-cautious with the tires and drops back to 10th overnight.
"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 Rovanpera. "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."
Adding to the drivers' comments, Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer said: "Today's stages have been difficult, especially with such high tire wear, but the drivers are feeling happy and our performance has been better than yesterday. We will try to continue like this and see what happens tomorrow."
Sunday's closing day of competition takes the crews to the wider and more flowing roads in the Saarland region for five stages before returning to St. Wendel for the climax of the event at the 6.24 kilometer spectator stage.
News from our rivals
Sebastien Loeb and Francois Duval, Citroen's one-two pairing, continue to dominate the rally and the crews, between them, won each of today's seven stages. More than a minute adrift, Marcus Gronholm maintains his third position, comfortably ahead of team-mate Markko Martin by nearly two minutes. Despite going off the road in SS8, Roman Kresta has held on to fifth but is just 2.4 seconds ahead of Gigi Galli. After his problems yesterday, Stephane Sarrazin has climbed from an overnight 14th to seventh but is pushing hard to keep ahead of Dani Solà in the M-Sport Ford Focus, who lost time this afternoon with a loss of hydraulic pressure. Petter Solberg lost eight places earlier today with a gear-shift problem but the Norwegian has regained three places to overnight in ninth. Ford's Toni Gardemeister plummeted from fifth to 36th with an electrical problem in SS8. He overnights in 23rd position.