* Didier Auriol consistently finishes within the top ten * Difference to Schwarz and Duval down to a few seconds * Championship points for Skoda within reach * Skoda Octavia WRC needs no major changes for the last day Day two of the Rallye Monte...
* Didier Auriol consistently finishes within the top ten
* Difference to Schwarz and Duval down to a few seconds
* Championship points for Skoda within reach
* Skoda Octavia WRC needs no major changes for the last day
Day two of the Rallye Monte Carlo saw important changes on the leader board and a good result for the Skoda Motorsport World Rally Team. The pressure to perform was high today when one of the special stages (SS 7) was cancelled, leaving only 82.41 stage kilometres for the day.
Didier Auriol maintained a fair rhythm in his Skoda Octavia WRC and steered reliably through the enthusiastic crowds. But the day ended not so well for some of the other teams. Mikko Hirvonen and Freddy Loix went off the road and Gilles Panizzi stopped feeling sick. Marcus Gronholm lost a lot of time when he went off as well throwing him back to 15th place overall. This promoted Sebastian Loeb to first place in the preliminary standings.
It was not an easy day for Didier Auriol. His direct competitors Armin Schwarz and Francois Duval kept up the pace but Didier was able to turn in some excellent times. He finished tenth on stage 8, seventh on stage 9, and eighth on the last stage today. He ended up 10th in the overall classification. The difference to Francois Duval, currently lying 8th, decreased from almost 25 to less than 6 seconds. Armin Schwarz saw his advantage over Auriol shrink from 38 to 3 seconds only.
Didier was happy with the result of the day, stating: "It is not easy to improve upon my position, the competition is so tough. We managed to come close to the times of Citroen who were using the same tyres as us." And while he was waving to the spectators in the service park, he added: "I have a better feeling for the car all the time. The Skoda Octavia WRC requires a very clean driving style; when you go too sideways you loose a lot of time. The road conditions were good today and the car gave me no problems. We do not need to make any changes to the Octavia WRC and we know which tyres to use."
SkodaMotorsport Director Petr Kohoutek is confident but does not want to speculate on the results too much at this stage, saying: "It is a pity that the first stage was cancelled. That left us with only 82 stage kilometres today, which makes the driving very critical. It all went well and we have the chance to score some points in the first rally of this year. But anything can still happen; this is motorsport."
Tomorrow there are 4 special stages to cover, totalling 104.20 kilometres for the final day of the 71st Rallye Monte Carlo.