WRC

Cyprus Rally: Leg two summary

With such a large opening day advantage, Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was never under pressure. But the Frenchman was fastest on all four stages that he drove competitively and now leads by 3min 32.7sec. Private entrant Manfred Stohl continued to...

With such a large opening day advantage, Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was never under pressure. But the Frenchman was fastest on all four stages that he drove competitively and now leads by 3min 32.7sec. Private entrant Manfred Stohl continued to hold off his pursuers in second and lies 42.7sec clear of Henning Solberg. Markko Martin (Peugeot) was untroubled as he climbed to fourth. Behind the Ford duo, Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) was on course to end the day in sixth but broken front right suspension sidelined him on the final stage. He incurred a five minute penalty for not finishing the test and dropped one position but will re-start tomorrow. Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot) was pushed out of parc ferme this morning in the hope that he could restart under SupeRally regulations following yesterday's first stage retirement, but his engine was too badly damaged to continue. Petter Solberg (Subaru), who retired on the final stage yesterday, was withdrawn late last night due to concerns about the condition of his car's engine, which ran for many kilometres with its air filter clogged by sand and gravel. Francois Duval (Citroen) kept a firm grip on sixth until the Belgian crashed into a tree on the penultimate stage. His car caught fire and the stage was neutralised for the following competitors. Armin Schwarz (Skoda) retired for the second day when he hit a rock which pitched his car off the track.

Citroen

At the end of the second day of the 2005 Cyprus Rally, Citroën's Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor continue to figure in the top two places. After taking everyone by surprise by finishing Leg 1 in 2nd position, the Austrian crew put in another faultless run today and still follows in the wake of the defending World Champions who controlled today's proceedings with their customary maturity. However, Francois Duval and Stephane Prevot were eliminated when their car caught fire after going off on SS11.

Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "I am pleased, of course. We didn't have any problems with the car and I didn't make any mistakes. Those two points were essential today and will be again tomorrow. I can't remember having previously led a WRC rally by such a big margin and it's a weird feeling. I tell myself that I am my own biggest rival. I must stay concentrated to avoid the sort of troubles that have decimated the field, especially since today's stages were in a better condition than yesterday's. Tomorrow's are rougher. When it's like that, when you haven't got a fight on your hands, you suffer at the same time as your car and it's difficult to derive any real pleasure."

Francois Duval / Stephane Prevot: "The braking zone for the right-hand turn was bumpy. Bumpier than first time through. I braked a little too late, missed the apex and under-steered off the road down a two-metre bank. The front of the car hit a tree and the impact damaged the fuel injection system. A small fire broke out but that was swiftly put out by the onboard extinguishers. I didn't succeed in opening the bonnet but I estimated that the damage wasn't too bad and tried to re-start. However, fire broke out again and the flames spread to the dry undergrowth around the car. There was nothing we could do."

Subaru

After re-starting this morning, Chris Atkinson moved seven places up the leaderboard to end the day in 13th position overall. Setting a string of top-ten times aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005, the WRC newcomer experimented with his car's set-up and fulfilled his objective of gaining experience of both his car and the specialist event. Concern about the condition of his Subaru's engine meant that Petter Solberg did not restart the Leg.

Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: Retired

Chris Atkinson/Glen Macneall: "We've seen some pretty rough conditions out there again today, especially on the second pass through the stages, but we've managed to keep out of trouble and have had a productive day. I'm in the fortunate position of being able to experiment with different driving styles and car settings to get the best performance in these conditions. I'm looking forward to doing more of the same on tomorrow's final."

Ford

Ford holds three of the top six places on the Cyprus Rally tonight after a second highly destructive day's competition on the Mediterranean island. The rough and rugged gravel tracks again took a heavy toll, but the Ford Focus RS World Rally Car matched speed with reliability to maintain a strong presence at the top of the leaderboard on this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Norwegians Henning Solberg and Cato Menkerud maintained a consistently fast pace in their privately-entered Focus RS to retain third place. BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen climbed to fifth in their Castrol-branded car while team-mates Roman Kresta and Jan Mozný ended the leg sixth in a similar Focus RS.

Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "I must have hit something but I don't know what. The mousse came out of the tyre and I had to continue to the finish like that. I've been happy with the car. I tried to drive smoothly and straight to avoid the stones but this is not what rallying is about for me. I'm not pushing too hard because if I try to drive flat out on these rocky roads then there is a chance that something will break. It's the same for everyone. I will try to continue at the same speed tomorrow."

Roman Kresta/Jan Mozny: "The roads were less rough today and the afternoon pass through the stages was easier than the first run this morning. There was quite a lot of loose gravel on the surface this morning but I prefer that to what we had yesterday. On the last stage we had a couple of close escapes with big rocks that were lying right in the middle of the track."

Peugeot

After examining the engine of Marcus Gronholm's 307 WRC at first service this morning, it was decided that the Finn would not re-start. The valves of the engine were too badly damaged following the timing belt breakage that sidelined him on day one. Following the first loop of three stages today, Markko Martin closed to within 1.7 seconds of the podium. A sprinkling of rain gave tyre choice an extra twist at the midday service halt. Peugeot Sport gambled on the stages remaining dry, which proved to be the correct decision. But the second loop still sprang plenty of surprises, such as Francois Duval's roll from which the crew escaped uninjured before their Citroen caught fire. The stage was stopped and notional times given to Manfred Stohl and Sebastien Loeb on the final two stages. As well as Duval, Harri Rovanpera, Antony Warmbold and Armin Schwarz also retired, while Toni Gardemeister was held back by mechanical problems.

Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: Retired

Markko Martin/Michael Park: "It's not been a bad day, and I've had no real problems. I've just concentrated on keeping the car on the road and avoiding all the dramas that seem to have affected everybody else. I am currently second of the manufacturer entries, and with no chance of taking the lead there is no point in pushing. This rally has been a real trial, and I'm just looking forward to getting to the finish tomorrow."

Mitsubishi

After a promising day of competition, in which the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen held sixth position, the Lancer WRC05 duo were ultimately forced to retire in the final stage with suspension damage. They nevertheless hold seventh in the overall classification after amassing penalties for not completing the stage. Team-mates Gilles and Herve Panizzi hold 15th after losing significant time yesterday.

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: "We hit a rock that then came into the wheel housing and lodged into the damper, which obviously then got blocked. The suspension arm broke and although we tried to continue it was better to stop, not cause any more damage and be able to re-start tomorrow."

Gilles Panizzi/Herve Panizzi: "The car is still not to my liking and I am having to fight with it too much. The second loop of stages this afternoon was maybe 50 per cent better than yesterday; some of which was as rough as Kenya! But, we are still here, starting tomorrow and that is a good thing."

Skoda

Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team driver Janne Tuohino holds a points-scoring eighth place after the second day of the gruelling Cyprus Rally but Armin Schwarz will again restart the final leg under the SupeRally system. Once again the day was typified by problems hitting crews throughout the field. After setting ninth fastest time on the opening stage, Janne was then slowed on the next when a pipe to the turbo was shaken loose by the battering from the rough roads. Armin had settled into a safe pace to stay clear of the dramas that hit other crews but left the road on SS11. He will restart tomorrow in 17th place overall.

Janne Tuohino/Mikko Markkula: "We started well and today's roads were a bit smoother than yesterday's although that still means they are very rough. About 5kms into the second stage we lost power and at the end we found that the turbo pipe had been shaken off. It only took a few minutes to fix it and although we lost a lot of time it only cost us one place and we've since made that up this afternoon."

Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: "Today was all about trying to drive with caution, almost at cruise speed, to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately we ran over a big rock about 6kms into SS11 which kicked the car into the air from the impact with the sump guard. It was just before a corner and so we went off the road and couldn't get back on. The car isn't damaged and we should be back out again tomorrow."

-rallyenewsletter-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team