OMV Peugeot Norway WRT already on podium Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor move up to third place on second day Narrow lead requires full speed on last leg, too Mikko Hirvonen still keeps Petter Solberg on distance One could call the OMV Peugeot...
OMV Peugeot Norway WRT already on podium
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor move up to third place on second day
Narrow lead requires full speed on last leg, too
Mikko Hirvonen still keeps Petter Solberg on distance
One could call the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team the winner of the second day of the "Telstra Rally Australia". During the 120,36 special stage kilometres, Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor overtook the Spanish duo Xavi Pons/Carlos del Barrio, who are giving a strong performance in the works Citroen with Number one. But the Austrian OMV duo turned the eight seconds they were behind into a lead by 20,1 seconds. Now it is paramount to get this result across the finish line. But there are still over 100 special stage kilometres to go on Sunday.
An almost perfect day
Conditions on the second day of the Telstra Rally Australia suited Manfred Stohl much better. The 34-year-old OMV driver took advantage of this fact and moved up from fourth to third overall place. Thereby he extended his lead on Xavi Pons (Spa/Citroen Xsara WRC) up to 20,1 seconds. Stohl: "I can't complain. The streets weren't half as slippery today. This was because the surface beneath the loose gravel was very soft. That does give you more grip. And I naturally increased the speed and tried to put pressure on Xavi. It is quite a joy when everything works faultlessly."
No made bed
But last year's third-placed is still convinced that it will yet need a strong performance to repeat this result. 20,1 seconds are no made bed. Therefore the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team will try their all to counter any attacks by Pons. Stohl: "Xavi will try anything. But we are well prepared. Even though these 20 seconds don't mean anything when you make a slip, they still speak in our favour. But I don't just want to react to his attacks but rather go a high tempo myself."
Hirvonen still on course to victory
Ford works driver Mikko Hirvonen is close to his first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship. The Finn not only defended his lead on Petter Solberg (Nor/Subaru WRC) but even extend it somewhat. Solberg announced a further attack for Sunday. Marcus Grönholm (Fin/Ford Focus WRC) has worked his way up to seventh place in the meantime. He should be in fifth place following the second special stage of the final day, at the least. But the necessary third place, to keep his WRC-chance intact, is only possible if two of the top placed should have to retire. Currently he lies over 9:30 minutes behind third-placed OMV driver Manfred Stohl.