Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm is spearheading Peugeot's attack on the Sanremo Rally, after a fast and consistent drive over today's four stages. Marcus ends leg two of the Italian event in third place, less than half a minute off second...
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm is spearheading Peugeot's attack on the Sanremo Rally, after a fast and consistent drive over today's four stages. Marcus ends leg two of the Italian event in third place, less than half a minute off second position.
Peugeot driver Gilles Panizzi is fifth overnight, while World Championship leader Richard Burns has finished the second day in ninth position.
Today's route included two runs over the longest stage of the rally: the 52 kilometres of Teglia. The mammoth test challenged tyres and brakes to the maximum, although there was none of the fog that hampered some crews yesterday. Conditions remained humid yet dry.
Marcus started the leg in third place, and was able to maintain this position all day. His Peugeot 206 WRC was completely reliable, although he reported a soft brake pedal on the first run through the long stage. Marcus pushed hard, but was not quite able to catch the car in front. Nonetheless, he hopes a final attack on the last day of the rally tomorrow will help him to improve his position.
He said: "Today has been fine. We have been pushing, but the cars in front are just too fast at the moment. There is nothing more we can do to change the car; we just have to keep on going like this and see what we can achieve at the end. When it comes to winning rallies and winning the championship, you can never give up!"
Gilles refined the set-up on his car today and enjoyed a better run than yesterday. He started leg two in sixth place, but his renowned skills on asphalt meant that he was up to fifth by the end of stage nine. The Frenchman's Peugeot ran reliably throughout the leg, and he is confident of another strong performance tomorrow.
Gilles said: "We have been improving the set-up all the time and the car has been able to go faster. I am driving as quickly as I can, and now we have been able to find a set-up that works well. It is very rare for me to turn a rally into a test session, but it's important to get everything right for the other two asphalt rallies coming up."
World Championship leader Richard Burns continued to suffer from a lack of confidence on the highly-specialised Italian stages. He dropped time on today's two long stages, but found that the middle loop of two shorter stages suited him better.
"I'm not sure what the problem is," said Richard. "I just know that the car is not flowing properly and I cannot find a rhythm. Tomorrow will be all about getting to the finish and seeing if I can score some points in order to maintain my championship advantage."
The final leg of the Sanremo Rally consists of four stages, with the morning's loop of two stages repeated in the afternoon. Bad weather remains a possibility that could dramatically affect the leaderboard. The first car leaves Parc Ferme in Sanremo at 0700 and the winner is expected back on the finish ramp at 1530.