Petter Solberg again demonstrated the Impreza WRC2006's competitive pace on gravel in the second Leg of Rally Argentina. The Norwegian set two fastest stage times to consolidate his second place overall. With 41km remaining on Sunday's final day...
Petter Solberg again demonstrated the Impreza WRC2006's competitive pace on gravel in the second Leg of Rally Argentina. The Norwegian set two fastest stage times to consolidate his second place overall. With 41km remaining on Sunday's final day of competition, Petter is 43secs behind event leader Sébastien Loeb. Chris Atkinson drove consistently throughout the Leg and moved up one place to sixth overall. Atkinson later dropped back to seventh position when Stewards' applied a one minute penalty for speeding in the service area.
SS11: 0807 La Falda - Villa Giardino 2 (11.77km)
After a 10 minute service in Cordoba, crews headed north for a repeat of
the short La Falda stage first run on Leg one. Overnight and morning rain
increased the depth of the watersplashes and produced exceptionally
slippery, muddy road conditions. Marcus Gronholm restarted under
Superally regulations following his Leg one retirement. The Finn started
his bid to move back up the standings with the first stage win of the
day, with Sébastien Loeb and Petter Solberg second and third quickest
respectively. Subaru's Norwegian driver was slightly slowed when his
car's gear selection paddle broke just before a watersplash eight
kilometres from the start. After the finish he made a temporary
replacement using a locking wrench. Manfred Stohl, competing in his 100th
WRC event, closed the gap to third placed Gigi Galli to just under five
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 7:45.6
SS12: 0848 La Cumbre - Agua de Oro 2 (21.37km)
After a short road section, crews tackled the 21km speed test near the
town of La Cumbre. Heavy fog lay over the stage, limiting visibility to
just a few metres in places. Gronholm took advantage of his early road
position to set the fastest time through the soft, muddy stage, six
seconds quicker than Xavier Pons. Manfred Stohl spun on the slippery
surface and lost 55secs to Gronholm. Chris Atkinson also slid wide and
clipped his car's left-rear wheel on a rock, knocking the geometry out
of alignment. Chris still went on to set sixth fastest time. An incorrect
tyre choice prevented Petter Solberg from closing the gap on Loeb. The
Norwegian was fifth fastest, but said that his chosen compound was far
too hard for the stage.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 18:19.0
SS13: 0941 Ascochinga - La Cumbre 2 (23.28km)
Atkinson and co-driver Glenn Macneall made roadside repairs to their car
before SS13 and went on to record the fifth fastest time through the 23km
test and move ahead of Dani Sordo into sixth overall. Xavier Pons secured
the win, his first ever scratch time, with Gronholm only one second
slower through the fog-bound stage. Another spin for Manfred Stohl
allowed Henning Solberg to move into fourth position overall.
Fastest Time: Pons (Citroen) 15:06.1
SS14: 1124 Cabalango - Carlos Paz 2 (14.53km)
The final stage before service was the 14km pass from Cabalango to the
outskirts of Carlos Paz. Henning Solberg reported fading brakes through
the test, however retained his newly-won fourth place with an advantage
of 7.2secs over Stohl. Atkinson and Sordo's battle for sixth continued,
with the Spaniard this time taking the upper hand and closing the gap to
Atkinson by one second. Loeb, Gronholm and Solberg were very closely
matched through the slippery, rutted stage. Only 1.5secs covered the
trio, with Loeb taking the win by the slimmest of margins from Gronholm.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 9:46.7
SS15: 1442 Santa Rosa - San Agustin 1 (21.41km)
After a 30 minute service crews headed south of Cordoba to the edge of
the Pampas and the first of four high-speed stages. Ford's Gronholm came
through fastest, just under three seconds quicker than the next quickest,
Petter Solberg. Manfred Stohl was fourth quickest as he fought to regain
the fourth position he lost to team-mate Henning Solberg in the
morning's loop of stages. Chris Atkinson consolidated his advantage over
Dani Sordo as he finished the stage seventh fastest despite a puncture,
20secs quicker than Sordo.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 13:08.5
SS16: 1535 Las Bajadas - Villa del Dique (16.35km)
The gravel pass featured long, fast straights and big jumps that thrilled
the thousands of spectactors lining the route. In a historic moment for
the Solberg family, brothers Henning and Petter were both quickest after
setting exactly the same winning time. The result was Henning's first
stage victory in the WRC. Petter reduced the gap to leader Loeb by four
seconds. Marcus Gronholm was third best as he continued to chase a top
ten finish following his retirement from Leg one. Chris Atkinson had a
trouble-free drive and finished seventh fastest.
Fastest Time: P. Solberg (Subaru) / H. Solberg (Peugeot) 8:50.5
SS17: 1621 Amboy - Santa Monica (20.29km)
Subaru's Petter Solberg continued to chip away at Loeb's lead with yet
another fastest stage time. The Norwegian stormed through nearly six
seconds faster than Loeb to reduce the gap to just over 46secs. Chris
Atkinson was an impressive fifth quickest through the test, which
featured long straights and lots of tight, technical turns. There was a
change in the tail end of the top eight when Ford team-mates Luis Perez
Companc and Matthew Wilson swapped positions. The Argentine moved ahead
of Wilson into eighth with one stage of the Leg remaining.
Fastest Time: Solberg (Subaru) 10:30.1
SS18: 1726 Santa Rosa - San Agustin 2 (21.41km)
After closing in on Gareth MacHale for the last two stages, Marcus
Gronholm finally snatched 10th position from the Irishman in the final
test of the day. Gronholm took his fourth win of the Leg to move 17secs
ahead of MacHale. Petter Solberg was pleased with his afternoon pace as
he recorded the second quickest stage time. The Norwegian finished the
Leg in second place, 43secs from rally leader Loeb. Gigi Galli rounded
off the top three overall ahead of Henning Solberg and Manfred Stohl.
Chris Atkinson had a solid finish to the day with the seventh quickest
time despite picking up a right-rear puncture. On the road section to
service the tyre broke up completely and Atkinson was forced to drive the
final 100km on the remaining three.
Fastest Time: Gronholm (Ford) 13:02.5
SWRT SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA: Of course I'm a little disappointed because we came here for the victory and it now looks like that target will be difficult to achieve. But, on the other hand, we should be pleased with the performance of our cars today. Mechanically, both have been very reliable ever since we started the rally. Petter has set some very good times, as well as the stage wins on SS16 and SS17 and Chris has also improved his pace.
PETTER SOLBERG: In fact it's been quite a good day, even though it didn't get off to a great start. First we made a bad tyre choice and that cost us a lot of time, and then I reckon we lost another six or seven seconds when the gear lever broke. But this afternoon was actually good and overall I'm pretty happy - we won two stages and our pace is better than the people behind. It was nice to share the stage win with Henning too - I don't think two brothers have ever done that before - I heard my mother and father were very happy! Tomorrow the stages are difficult, I know there are lot of bad rocks and anything can happen. The rally isn't over yet - we all have to do those stages first.
CHRIS ATKINSON: Driving 100km back to service on three tyres was quite a dramatic way to end the day, but on the whole it's been okay. We ran at a consistent pace, moved up a place on the leader board and have done the best we can. I haven't been able to get the car set up exactly as I'd have liked but I've adapted my driving to suit and hope to be able to get a points finish tomorrow - that's the plan.
NEWS FROM PIRELLI
MARIO ISOLA, PIRELLI COMPETIZIONI RALLY MANAGER: We showed a very strong performance this afternoon. Petter lost some time this morning with the problem with the gear lever and the tyre choice was not ideal. The weather was changing very quickly and we opted for a safe solution that would work in most conditions. However the first two stages were completely wet and the tyre was too hard for the very slippery surface. The choice this afternoon was correct, as shown by Petter's two stage wins. The car, tyre and driver package are working well together.