WRC

Swedish Rally Subaru leg two report

Summary After the early retirements of Alister McRae (Hyundai) and Armin Schwarz (Skoda), the morning of day two of the Swedish Rally fell into a pattern with Makinen and Radstrom (Mitsubishi) and Rovanpera (Peugeot) battling for the...

Summary
After the early retirements of Alister McRae (Hyundai) and Armin Schwarz (Skoda), the morning of day two of the Swedish Rally fell into a pattern with Makinen and Radstrom (Mitsubishi) and Rovanpera (Peugeot) battling for the first three positions. Meanwhile, Ford's Colin McRae and Subaru's Richard Burns set the quickest times for much of the day, and have retrieved some of the time ground they lost on the opening leg, McRae gaining nine places and Burns 13 by the close of play. Elsewhere, as the day progressed, Hyundai's Kenneth Eriksson slid from sixth to tenth on SS11 after losing three gears, and Sainz and Delecour (Ford) and Auriol (Peugeot) held station on the leaderboard behind the podium positions. Subaru's Petter Solberg moved up into seventh place, promising the team a possible two manufacturers' points, while his team-mate Martin returned consistently quick times to climb five places to an overnight position of 15th. Conditions have been nothing less than excellent, all drivers relishing the sunlit high speed stages covered with a fresh layer of snow.

Stage Reports

SS7 1004hrs Kullen (26.81km)
Temperatures for the start of day two were another handful of degrees colder than yesterday, reaching minus 170C at points on the stage, while Richard Burns' Subaru Impreza required defrosting inside the cabin after the 160km morning road section. Prior to the start, this new stage was ploughed, leaving a base of fresh, hard packed snow. Featuring a very fast section with breathtaking jumps in the final section towards Kullen village, Tommi Makinen looked to have claimed his first scratch time of the rally until the late running McRae and Burns passed the Mitsubishi into first and second place. Carlos Sainz's fourth quickest time was enough to extend his overall lead over Peugeot's Rovanpera by a second and a half, while Subaru's new pair of drivers, Martin and Solberg put the troubles of yesterday behind them and were seventh and eighth quickest respectively. Alister McRae's rally ended when he retired his Hyundai with engine problems, and third placed Radstrom was fortunate to hold onto his position after getting his Mitsubishi stuck in a snowbank. Fastest time: McRae C (14.08.9)

SS8 1045hrs Nyhammar 1 (27.79km)
Nyhammar, some 12km distant from SS7, on the eastern side of the Vasman lake, was more familiar to competitors from previous events. Leader Carlos Sainz reported no problems, but dropped approximately 15 seconds to those immediately behind him and saw his overall advantage reduce to 0.3s, setting up a thrilling tussle for the lead after service F. Makinen was once again deprived of a fastest time by McRae, but this time by the slenderest margin of 0.3s, while Burns completed the stage in the third quickest time. McRae had advanced to 14th overall, while his hard-charging rival, Burns, had climbed nine places over the two morning stages to 25th overall, and team-mates Martin and Solberg were once again well inside the top ten, sixth and eighth fastest respectively. Armin Schwarz was the second retirement of the day, getting the Skoda Octavia buried in deep snow too far off the road to retrieve the situation. Fastest time: McRae C (14.43.4)

SS9 1328hrs Fredriksberg (34.07km)
Stalling his Ford Focus on the stage, Carlos Sainz recorded a slow time, just inside the top ten and some 27 seconds behind team-mate McRae, dropping him from the lead of the rally to fourth overall. Rovanpera snatched the lead for Peugeot, but was being hard pressed by Makinen, the quickest of the Michelin drivers, finishing the stage just behind McRae and Burns, who yet again were the class of the field. Rovanpera and Makinen's progress put the Scandinavian drivers back in charge of the rally. Subaru's Martin and Solberg were also prospering, having settled into the conditions and developing experience with the Impreza on snow with its Pirelli tyres. The two young drivers were split by a hair's breadth, finishing the stage in 6th and 7th place. Fastest time: McRae C (19.21.7)

SS10 1418hrs Silkesberg (15.30km)
The Silkesberg stage concluded in close proximity to the event's central service location of Grangesberg, the last stage in clear daylight. In a pattern that had been repeated all day with just one exception, McRae and Burns set the pace, moving the Ford driver up to 12th overall, and his young English Subaru rival from 34th overnight to 24th. At the front, Rovanpera's lead was reduced by half a second, but the cat and mouse continued -- instead of having Makinen on his tail, it was still a red Mitsubishi in his mirrors, but now it was Radstrom that had moved into second spot. Team's Cup contenders Al Wahaibi and Dor continued to perform consistently in their new Subaru Impreza WRCars, and given that they are competing against a strong field of drivers with local knowledge, both were in points-scoring positions. Fastest time: McRae C (7.52.6)

SS11 1549hrs Nyhammar 2 (27.79km)
On the second visit to the Nyhammar stage in the day, gravel crews reported that the stage conditions were wearing, with gravel patches appearing through the snow and ice surfaces -- borne out by slower times recorded by the leading drivers. McRae's unbroken run of fastest times came to end due to a poor tyre choice, the Scot dropping just under 17 seconds to Makinen, who eventually claimed his first scratch time of the rally. While Rovanpera and Radstrom again tussled over a few seconds to claim an overnight podium position, Solberg put the hammer down and finished just 1.9s behind his team leader, Burns. Solberg's strong showing on the stage elevated him to 7th overall ahead of Gardemeister, and the young Norwegian reported to have his sights set for tomorrow on Auriol in another Peugeot just ahead of him. Team-mate Martin also jumped a place up the rankings to 15th overall, despite a disappointing stage given his form during the rest of the day. Fastest time: Makinen (14.50.2)

SS12 1718hrs Lugnet (2.00km)
The Lugnet ski jump arena was packed with a reported 20,000 spectators to watch the final superspecial stage of the day under floodlights. Some of the quickest drivers of the day did not feature among the top times, but it was incidental over the stage's short length. The standings going into the final service remained unchanged. Fastest Time: Rovanpera (2.00.0)

<pre> Stage and overall positions

         SS7 SS8 SS9 SS10 SS11 SS12 SS OA SS OA SS OA SS OA SS OA SS OA 
Rovanpera 6   2   5   2    5    1    4  1  2  1  1  1 
Radstrom  9   3   4   3    4    3    3  2  3  3  7  3 
Makinen   3   4   2   4    3    2    5  3  1  2  4  2 
Sainz     4   1  11   1   10    4   12  4  9  4  3  4  
Delecour  5   6   7   5   13    5    9  5  7  5 14  5 
Burns     2  27   3  25    2   25    2 24  4 21 13 21 
Solberg   8   8   8   8    7    8   13  8  5  7 12  7 
Martin    7  20   6  18    6   16    8 16 13 15 16 15                                                                      

</pre>

Richard Burns "The tyres have worked so well here, and I am really pleased with the development work Pirelli has undertaken. It's given us an edge right through the rally. We did lose some studs on SS11 and as a consequence were a bit slower on the last pair of stages, but that is not surprising considering the amount of gravel we found on the second time through Nyhammar. I am keeping my concentration on the stages, but in order to collect some manufacturers' points, we really dependent on what the other drivers do. We'll see what tomorrow brings"

Petter Solberg "The plan has gone perfectly today, and the car has felt great -- very stable. I've been very appreciative of the support on the stages from the spectators today, it really does help, and I've been amazed that it's not just the Norwegian fans, it's the Swedes too. I know Auriol knows the stages tomorrow well, but I have spoken to the team management and they have told me to take him, so that is what we will do."

Markko Martin "It's been a good day overall, everything has worked well except the conditions on Nyhammar for the second time which lost us lots of studs and made the superspecial very difficult. But we've been fine mechanically, and today has been a big improvement on yesterday"

Hamed Al Wahaibi "I have changed to a new note system this year, and we still have some work to do to make it precise. On a high speed rally like this, sometimes I have found myself in the wrong gear in a corner, so it's not been a perfect day. But my main objective is to score Team's Cup points, and we are in second place tonight"

Freddy Dor "I've had a really enjoyable day. The conditions have been fantastic with just the right amount of snow, ice and sunshine. I want to make it to the end to see this rally through, so we will be taking it safely"

<pre> Leg 2 Leaderboard After 12 of 17 Stages

 1. Rovanpera/Pietilainen Peugeot 206WRC                 2.33.09.9 
 2. Makinen/Mannisenmaki Mitsubishi Lancer                    +7.3 
 3. Radstrom/Thorner Mitsubishi Carisma GT                   +12.4 
 4. Sainz/Moya Ford Focus WRC                                +28.5 
 5. Delecour/Grataloup Ford Focus WRC                      +1.22.0 
 6. Auriol/Giraudet Peugeot 206WRC                         +1.28.6 
 7. Solberg/Mills Subaru Impreza WRC2001                   +1.34.1 
 8. Gardemeister/Lukander Peugeot 206WRC                   +2.00.7 
 9. Carlsson/Melander Toyota Corolla WRC                   +2.56.5 
10. Eriksson/Parmander Hyundai Accent WRC                  +3.14.2 
15. Martin/Park Subaru Impreza WRC2001                     +6.22.8 
20. Al Wahaibi/Sircombe Subaru Impreza WRC2000            +11.04.1 
21. Burns/Reid Subaru Impreza WRC2001                     +12.05.2 
26. Dor/Breton Subaru Impreza WRC2000                     +22.42.6 

Tomorrow's Leg

The event's final leg commences at 0630hrs and after a 85km due north road section to Hagfors morning service, the first stage starts at 0846hrs. Tomorrow's itinerary covers 5 further stages, totalling 97 competitive km before the rally concludes back in Karlstad tomorrow afternoon at 1608hrs

-Subaru

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