At the end of the second leg of Rally Argentina, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen have consolidated their fifth position and are fighting hard for...
At the end of the second leg of Rally Argentina, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen have consolidated their fifth position and are fighting hard for fourth after a string of top times this afternoon. Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore have also been on the pace but, following yesterday's problems, hold 21st position.
"We've had no problems all day long and had very good reliability", said Roger Estrada, Principal Rally Engineer. "This morning I think the tires were maybe too hard for the conditions, but this afternoon Harri has performed very well and Gigi has also posted some good times. For sure we can see an improvement with the rear suspension geometry; overall we have much better handling. Tomorrow Harri will continue to push and hopefully be able to move into fourth".
The second leg of Rally Argentina took in another seven stages and 114.35 competitive kilometers. This morning's route covered a mix of four flowing stages in the Calamuchita Valley to the south, while this afternoon headed back to the stages in the Punilla Valley. Conditions remained cold and wet and while the stages this morning were damp and partially muddy, torrential rain in Villa Carlos Paz all morning meant the crews faced wet and slippery stages this afternoon.
In the shadow of distant snow-capped mountains, Harri Rovanpera maintained his position over this morning's stages, although the Finn was not entirely comfortable with the Lancer WRC05. Changes to the suspension set-up at the mid-leg service, however, made a dramatic difference and the Finn posted a second and two fourth-fastest stage times to lie within 11 seconds of fourth-placed Toni Gardemeister.
"We had a disappointing morning; I drove hard and the times were just not there, but at least I now understand what was wrong", said Harri. "After changing the set-up everything came right and we set some good times. All round the car is better and we had a very good afternoon. Anything is possible tomorrow; we'll continue to push and see what we can do".
Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 team-mate Gigi Galli had a mix of success in this morning's four stages, the Italian stalling at the start of SS11 and also spinning in the same stage. By lunchtime however, he had posted a third and fourth fastest time. This afternoon, Gigi maintained the pace and posted two third-fastest times in SS15 and SS16, but another stall on the start line of SS17 and a subsequent spin spoiled his run of top times.
"The whole day has not been bad, other than the small problems with the stalling and spins", said Gigi this evening. "I had a feeling at shakedown there was something strange with the launch system so the team will obviously check this out, as it was not something we had a problem with yesterday after so few stages. The new rear suspension geometry has given better balance and I think really we have had one good leg. Because of our position, we also use the time to do some small tests and always we learn more about the stages, tires and set-up".
The final leg of Rally Argentina takes in two of the Championship's most famous stages high in the Traslasierra Mountains to the south-west, Giulio Cesare splitting two runs through El Condor. The route then returns to Villa Carlos Paz, where the event reaches its climax with two runs around the Pro Racing Super Special stage.
News from our rivals
Marcus Gronholm took the fight to Sebastien Loeb today and despite slashing the deficit to the dominant Frenchman, the Peugeot driver holds second with 26.6 seconds to find in tomorrow's closing leg. Petter Solberg was unable to match Gronholm and drops to third, having damaged a rear brake caliper and lost fluid in SS15. Despite sealing the leak, the Norwegian then struggled for the remaining two stages, invariably only running with front brakes. Toni Gardemeister maintains fourth, despite sliding off the road three times in the final stage of the leg. Behind Harri Rovanpera, positions remain unchanged, although Roman Kresta moves into the top ten.