Rally Finland Leg 2 (Saturday, 10 August 2002) Just 50 of the original 77 starters left Jyvaskyla Parc Ferme this morning at 0600hrs to contest the second day of action on Rally Finland. Comprising six high-speed gravel stages and a total of 176...
Rally Finland Leg 2 (Saturday, 10 August 2002) Just 50 of the original 77 starters left Jyvaskyla Parc Ferme this morning at 0600hrs to contest the second day of action on Rally Finland.
Comprising six high-speed gravel stages and a total of 176 competitive kilometres near the university town of Jyvaskyla, Leg 2 is the longest of the event and included two passes through one of the most famous stages in the World Championship -- the 34km Ouninpohja test.
In perfect weather conditions and with the top 15 cars running in reverse order, the Peugeot drivers capitalised on their advantageous running positions from the outset and continued to dominate the action by claiming all six stage wins. At the end of the day, Marcus Gronholm holds the lead ahead of tomorrow's final leg, with Richard Burns 1m37s behind in second, and Colin McRae another 48 seconds back in third.
However, Leg 2 wasn't all plain sailing for the French team. Richard Burns lost the overall lead on SS12 after a heavy landing caused mechanical problems, while team-mate Harri Rovanpera retired with broken suspension. After another good day Petter Solberg, the young 555 Subaru World Rally Team driver, holds overnight fifth place and is just 8.7 seconds behind Carlos Sainz. His team-mate Tommi Makinen continued to refine his performance with the car during the day and will start tomorrow in seventh place.
SS11 0816hrs Talviainen (25.74km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 12:47.3
Following yesterday's leading performance, Richard Burns was straight back on the attack this morning and was quickest through SS11 -- finishing more than seven seconds ahead of second placed Marcus Gronholm. Harri Rovanpera was third to complete another Peugeot 1-2-3. Ford's Markko Martin was fourth, which moved him up from tenth to eighth overall, with Sebastian Lindholm fifth and Subaru's Petter Solberg sixth. A bad start for the Hyundai team -- 11th placed Juha Kankkunen rolled his Accent WRC two kilometres from the start. The Finn and his co-driver were okay but damage to the car meant instant retirement.
SS12 0856hrs Ouninpohja 1 (34.13km)
Fastest time: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 15:58.6
Tricky crests and terrifying speeds make the 34km Ouninpohja stage one of the most difficult and demanding of the championship and it certainly proved problematic for Richard Burns today. A bad landing after one the Finnish 'yumps' in the first half dislodged a turbo boost pipe and cost the current World Champion over a minute and a half to team-mates Rovanpera and Gronholm who finished first and second. The Brit completed the stage but tumbled down the overall leader board to third place -- more than a minute behind new rally leader Harri Rovanpera. Fortunately there were no such problems for Petter Solberg, the Norwegian finished seventh quickest with team-mate Tommi Makinen just behind in eighth. At the end of SS12 they were sixth and ninth overall respectively.
SS13 1224hrs Moksi-Leustu (40.84km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 20:31.9
More problems for Peugeot when Harri Rovanpera's Finland Rally came to an abrupt end on SS13 and halted the French manufacturers domination of the top three positions. The Finn, who had been overall leader at the start of the test, collected a puncture and eventually lost a wheel from his 206 WRC. He managed to complete the stage but was later forced to retire with terminal suspension damage. Meanwhile, Gronholm was quickest finishing more than ten seconds in front of chasing team-mate Burns, and moved up to take the overall lead. McRae was third for Ford; Sainz was fourth and Solberg fifth. Makinen came home in seventh.
SS14 1331hrs Ehikki (14.89km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 6:57.8
Another win for Gronholm. The local hero completed the short Ehikki course more than 13 seconds faster than his colleague Burns, who was second, and extended his overall lead to 1 minute 29 seconds. Best of the rest was Colin McRae -- he was third quickest and the result moved him 37 seconds behind Burns on the overall table. Carlos Sainz was fourth while Solberg continued his consistent form to finish fifth for the 555 Subaru Team. At the end of the stage the Norwegian remained in sixth place overall, just 5.9 seconds behind Sainz. Makinen finished the stage in eighth place to hold seventh overall. After the stage, the crews headed back to the Service Park at the Paviljonki complex.
SS15 1728hrs Ouninpohja 2 (25.22km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 11:26.0
No repeat of the dramas seen on the earlier run through the Ouninpohija course. Matching his team-mates achievement on Leg 1, Gronholm charged through the 25.22km stage to notch up his third successive win -- making it another hat-trick for the Peugeots. However, the star of the stage was Subaru's Petter Solberg who pulled out all the stops and flew through to finish second fastest. The Norwegian not only completed the stage a whole three seconds clear of the Richard Burns' Peugeot but also moved back ahead of Sainz on the overall leader board into fourth. Burns was third quickest, followed by Ford's Markko Martin and team-mate Colin McRae who was fifth. Makinen finished seventh, the same position that he held overall.
SS16 1816hrs Vaheri-Himos (35.83km)
Fastest time: Burns (Peugeot) 17:58.0
Burns ended Leg 2 in the same manner that he started it today and charged through to clinch another stage win -- increasing the total that he has achieved during the event to eight. Gronholm finished second and McRae was third as he completed another steady drive to consolidate his overall third position before tomorrow's third and final leg. Subaru team-mates Petter and Tommi both experienced minor spins but neither lost significant time and finished the stage in sixth and eleventh position respectively. The Subaru stars go into Leg 3 in fifth and seventh position in the overall standings.
Petter Solberg: "It's been a good day and I'm happy. I chose tyres that were a bit too soft for the conditions on the first two sections, but the last two stages were very good - the whole package worked very well on the harder surface. It's disappointing that we lost time with the spin on the last one, but for tomorrow I'll be looking to catch Carlos and Colin again."
Tommi Makinen: "We've had another good clean run today, and we've made some little changes to the car which have given some positive results. Tonight we'll be changing the roll-bar settings, and I think that will make the handling even better for tomorrow. Definitely we will be learning more about the set-up in these conditions for future rallies."
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru Team Principal: "We've seen today that anything can happen on this rally. Petter has continued to set good times relative to Colin and Carlos, and I'm sure that he'll keep chipping away at them, I think he's got a good chance of a podium finish tomorrow. We're going to do some more work with Tommi's set-up tonight, and we'll be looking to get some more feedback to help with our New Zealand preparations."
Technical talk -- 'Yumping' In Finland
Leg 2 of Rally Finland includes one of the most famous stages in the World Championship -- the epic 34km Ouninpohja course. Renowned for its tricky crests, blind corners and stomach churning jumps (or 'yumps' as they are known in Finland), rally drivers charge flat-out at speeds of up to 200kph, never knowing exactly what's around the corner. Here's some more information about how the drivers cope with the yumps:
* Drivers aim to keep their WRC cars as level as possible when airborne to prevent them from 'bottoming out'. This is when the front or rear of the car crashes down on to the ground before the wheels.
* As an evenly balanced car is easier to keep flat when airborne, the 555 Subaru World Rally Team ensure that the static weight distribution of the Subaru Impreza WRC2002 is very evenly balanced. This, combined with an aerodynamic package specially designed to encourage level flight puts the Subaru in a class of its own in the air.
* Although very popular with spectators, a long and high jump isn't such good news for drivers. The more time a car spends in the air, the less in control a driver becomes. Makinen and Solberg endeavour to keep the car on the ground as much as possible to help them put the power down and continue to make adjustments to the steering.
* The best drivers often dab or 'feather' the brakes as they approach the yump. This helps move the weight of the car forward, compress the front suspension and keep the nose down as it takes off so that a flatter line through the air can be achieved.
* As well as setting the dampers to ensure that they absorb all the heavy landings, some drivers also choose to make alternations to the inside of the car. For Rally Finland 555 Subaru World Rally drivers Solberg and Mills requested that an extra 20ml of foam was built into their seats to help them cope with the jolts and jumps that are such a customary part of this event.
Starts from Jyvaskyla parc ferme at 0720hrs when crews will again travel the surrounding countryside to contest the final six stages. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp back in Jyvaskyla at 1620hrs.