WRC

Rally Australia: Mitsubishi leg two summary

Paasonen gains experience in Australia. The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of Jani Paasonen and Arto Kapanen hold 12th position at the end of the second leg of Rally Australia, the penultimate round of the 2002 FIA World Rally ...

Paasonen gains experience in Australia.

The Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of Jani Paasonen and Arto Kapanen hold 12th position at the end of the second leg of Rally Australia, the penultimate round of the 2002 FIA World Rally Championship.

Fifty five of the original 69 competitors took the re-start early this morning, dry but overcast conditions greeting them as they headed 46 kilometres to the first service park at Chidlow. The second leg took the contenders to the east of the city for stages around Mundaring and saw the return of the spectacular York and Muresk special stages, famed for their superb scenery and stomach-churning jumps. Today's route covered 11 special stages and 147.27 competitive kilometres and, although weather experts predicted drier conditions, intermittent showers kept the dust down this morning and temperatures hovered between 13 and 20 degrees this afternoon.

The 11th placed Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart crew of Jani Paasonen and Arto Kapanen were locked in a close battle with 12th placed four-times World Champion Juha Kankkunen earlier, but Paasonen was happy to be running behind the Finn on the road. "Our road position, right behind Juha, was the perfect place for me to be," commented Jani. "He has so much experience and I could see the lines he was taking and was learning a lot." However, the Finns lost time in SS16 this afternoon when they cut a corner, the impact pirouetting the car onto its front end before landing back on its wheels. "I fired the car up immediately, but obviously when the back-end came down it landed so hard it must have broken the rear cross-member," added Jani. "The turbo pipe also broke so we could only carry on slowly through the stage." The Finns dropped behind Hyundai's Juha Kankkunen as a consequence, but retained 11th position following Colin McRae's retirement. However, they then incurred a 10-second penalty for jumping the start at Langley Park this evening and dropped back to 12th overall.

Following the accident that sidelined François Delecour and Daniel Grataloup, Marlboro Mitsubishi Ralliart is pleased to confirm that Daniel has now been moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a general ward in Perth's hospital. The Frenchman is comfortable and in good spirits.

Commenting on yesterday's accident, François said: "I don't remember anything, nothing at all. There was a battle going on with Jani because I wanted to be behind him on the road today, and Daniel and I started to work out how much we could take in each stage and I thought maybe we could do it. In stage seven, where we had our accident, I was crazy everywhere, flat out, but everything was okay because I know the road well. We came to a small left third-gear corner, and then I remember being flat-out for one kilometre, but then I don't remember anything. Afterwards, Daniel was more afraid for me because I was slumped in the seat for a few seconds before coming round, and then I saw him and many other people. I remember only Richard (Burns) though; he was trying to help, he was good to us. After that, I don't really know. I didn't see the tree coming towards us at all, I just don't remember. I am happy with everything that happened with the medical staff, and the helicopter came at the right moment. For sure it is my biggest accident ever, definitely, but I'm the lucky one because I'm just bruised and have some aches and pains. My feelings are for Daniel."

Meanwhile...

The face of the leaderboard remains largely unchanged after the second leg of competition in Rally Australia. Marcus Gronholm continues to lead and now holds a 48.3 second advantage over Petter Solberg (Subaru), the Norwegian enjoying an almost trouble-free run. Harri Rovanpera (Peugeot) has however moved up into third position, overhauling Carlos Sainz (Ford) in stage 11. Tommi Makinen (Subaru) retains fifth position, the Finn incurring a 10 second penalty for jumping the start of SS15, but Colin McRae was forced into retirement from sixth position. The Scot, co-driven by Derek Ringer, landed heavily after a jump in the Muresk stage (SS14) and although he was able to complete the stage, radiator damage and a loss of water ultimately halted the Focus. McRae's retirement enabled team-mate Markko Martin to claim sixth and move into the points, however the Estonian was under pressure from François Duval in the fourth Focus RS and was ultimately overhauled in stage 19. The duo are split by just eight-tenths of second after 282.95 kilometres of competition. Toni Gardemeister leads Skoda's assault in eighth position and Sebastien Loeb has moved into ninth in his first attempt at the rally. Tenth position is now held by four-time World Champion Juha Kankkunen (Hyundai).

Still to come...

The final leg takes the remaining crews to the famous pine plantation at Sotico, formerly known as Bunnings, for the concluding four stages and 105.69 competitive kilometres. The complex draws crowds in their thousands for the spectacular viewing opportunities and mind-blowing jumps that launch cars metres into the air. Crews then return to Perth for the finish at 16:00 hrs (GMT+8).

-mitsubishi-

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