Marcus Gronholm had promised last night not to give up on his quest to win Rally Argentina, despite a handicap of 45 seconds at the end of leg one. With four fastest stage times out of seven, Marcus was by far the quickest driver of leg two â€“ ...
Marcus Gronholm had promised last night not to give up on his quest to win Rally Argentina, despite a handicap of 45 seconds at the end of leg one. With four fastest stage times out of seven, Marcus was by far the quickest driver of leg two – delivering on his promise. Not only did he pass the Subaru in front of him, but he also took 19 seconds from a supposedly 'untouchable' leader: Sebastien Loeb!
The second day of the rally started off with a loop of stages to the south of rally headquarters in Villa Carlos Paz, around the charming town of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, which is famous for its Germanic influences. Persistent rain saturated the service area in the morning, but further south the stages were drier and therefore cooler – with temperatures dipping to four or five degrees centigrade. The first loop of four stages was made up of 80 competitive kilometres, run over roads that were wide and fast, with black sand providing a generally good level of grip. In these conditions the drivers were able to take advantage of the 307 WRC's strengths: particularly Marcus Gronholm who set three fastest times plus a second-fastest time. The afternoon's loop of three stages included two stages that had previously been run on the opening leg. Marcus was able to set yet another fastest time, and return to Villa Carlos Paz rightly proud of his day's work.
Marcus Gronholm: "Today was much better than yesterday, mostly because the roads were much better suited to me and the 307 WRC. The stages in the morning were wider, faster, and less bumpy, and these are the conditions in which our car works best. I enjoyed this leg and we didn't have a single problem. I think it will be impossible for us to win the rally just by normal driving, but we have to stay as close as possible and keep the pressure on. Tomorrow's stages are sure to be very tricky for everybody."
Markko Martin: "Today has been fine, with no real problems. We've made a good tyre choice throughout the day although we slid off a couple of times this morning, which cost us a bit of time. I'm still not totally confident when driving the car on the limit, but we've managed to find a pace that means we can get to the end without taking risks. My plan is to keep going like this: maybe there is a chance of making up another place tomorrow."
Jean-Pierre Nicolas: "It's been a good day for Peugeot. Marcus has taken nearly 20 seconds from Sebastien Loeb and second place from Petter Solberg – whom he leads tonight by 35 seconds. It's been very encouraging for both him and the team. This morning's stages were faster with good grip, whereas the stages in the afternoon were largely used the day before, and were narrower and more slippery. This was not so good for our car, and neither for Markko, who still doesn't feel very comfortable with it. He was within six seconds of Harri Rovanpera last night, but now the gap has gone up to 51 seconds. Tomorrow Marcus will continue to drive at his normal rhythm without overdriving: the gap to Loeb is too big for him to overhaul under normal circumstances."