Subaru driver Mikko Hirvonen put in a solid performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 today, to move up the leaderboard and finish the day in fourth place. With six stages remaining on tomorrow's final Leg, the young Finn is on course...
Subaru driver Mikko Hirvonen put in a solid performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 today, to move up the leaderboard and finish the day in fourth place. With six stages remaining on tomorrow's final Leg, the young Finn is on course to match his career-best WRC finish. Re-starting the event after his retirement on Leg one, Petter Solberg demonstrated the leading pace of his Impreza by winning five of today's eight forest stages. Having already claimed second in the 2004 Drivers' Championship, Petter took the opportunity to test car set-ups ahead of future events.
SS10: 0946 Beraking 2 (23.03km)
Having led the event from the outset, the repeated sun-drenched
test from Beraking was to be the last of 2004 for Peugeot's Marcus
Gronholm. After a determined effort in Leg one that saw him build an
overnight advantage of 21.4 seconds, the Finn slid his 307 into a rut on
a left-hand corner 3km from the start and spun 360-degrees, hitting the
front and back of his car on a tree. Unable to re-start his engine as a
result of damage sustained in the incident, he and co-driver Timo
Rautiainen retired, which promoted Citroen's Sebastien Loeb to the
overall lead. Shaving 22.6 seconds off the previous winning time through
the stage, the Frenchman was quickest, with Harri Rovanpera second
fastest and Francois Duval third. Mikko Hirvonen was fifth fastest and
moved up to fourth position overall. After the finish, crews drove 14km
north to the start of SS11.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 12:40.9
SS11: 1029 Helena East 1 (22.29km)
Including a flat out sixth-gear section near the start, the last
10km of the Helena West stage was narrow and technical, with deceptive
corners, hidden crests and fifth-gear jumps. Having re-joined the event
as permitted under the FIA re-start system, Petter Solberg was fastest
over the 22.29km to take the win, with Loeb second and Francois Duval
third. As the sun continued to shine, conditions in the stage were very
dry and the loose, ball bearing-like gravel surface made the route
slippery for drivers, especially if they strayed off the racing line.
Despite the difficult conditions, there were no leading retirements and,
after the finish, crews moved to the start of SS12.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 13:17.2
SS12: 1108 Atkins 1 (4.42km)
Apart from the Super Special, the sprint from Atkins is the
shortest of the event but attracts almost as many spectators. Beginning
with a flat-out two-kilometre section, the stage then takes crews into a
purpose built spectator area, with grandstand seating near a complex of
tricky hairpin bends. Petter Solberg was fastest through the test, with
Duval second and Rovanpera third. Hirvonen was fifth quickest. Once the
stage was complete, crews stopped for a 10-minute tyre-fitting service
near the town of Mundaring.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 3:03.1
SS13: 1143 Helena West 1 (15.44km)
Setting an average speed of 104.44kph, Petter Solberg took his
third consecutive win on the first pass through the Helena West stage.
Loeb was second fastest to maintain his overall lead by more than a
minute, while Rovanpera was third and Duval fourth. Running second on
the road for Leg two, Hirvonen reported the conditions extremely
slippery as he encountered more loose gravel than most. He set the
fifth-fastest time, 21.2 seconds off the winning pace.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 8:52.2
SS14: 1211 Helena South 2 (17.31km)
Including a mixture of long straights and crowd-pleasing jumps,
the Helena South test saw WRC cars power through the stage at speeds of
up to 200kph. Previously used as SS7 in Leg one, the stage's hard base
had already been swept of loose gravel, meaning front-runners Ford
Privateer Anthony Warmbold and Subaru's Hirvonen could find more grip
than they had on the previous test. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb was
fastest, with Solberg second and Rovanpera third. Hirvonen was fourth
fastest though the test, ahead of Francois Duval who overshot a junction
3km from the start. Once the stage was complete, crews returned to Perth
for a 20-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:59.0
SS15: 1534 Flynns 1 (20.10km)
Providing one of the few surfaces changes of the rally, the 20km
test from Flynns included sections of exposed bedrock and forest roads
littered with pine needles. Despite holding a one-minute lead, Sebastien
Loeb reported that he found it easier to concentrate if he continued to
attack on the stages and on this occasion was fastest to take his third
victory of the day. Solberg was second fastest and Rovanpera third.
Hirvonen was fifth fastest. There was no change to the overall positions
of the WRC drivers and, once the test was complete, crews moved directly
to the start of SS16.
Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:59.8
SS16: 1613 Helena West 2 (15.44km)
As Loeb and Solberg continued to trade stage wins, this time it
was Petter who was fastest in his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 to take his
fourth of the day. Loeb was second fastest, to retain the overall lead
and Rovanpera was third. Hirvonen was fourth fastest, ahead of the Focus
of Duval in fifth. After the finish, crews drove a 15km road section to
the start of SS17.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 8:37.0
SS17: 1648 Atkins 2 (4.42km)
Less than five seconds separated the top-five times on the
second pass through the spectator-pleasing Atkins stage. Solberg was
quickest, with Loeb second and Duval third. Hirvonen was just 0.2
seconds slower than the Belgian to take the fourth-best time. With
conditions remaining sunny and warm, hundreds of spectators had remained
in the purpose-built spectator areas to catch another glimpse of their
favourite rally drivers in action. Once crews had completed the stage,
they returned to Perth for a 45-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 2:59.5
SS18: 1945 Perth Citry Super 4 (2.35km)
Fastest Stage Time: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 1:33.1
SS19: 1954 Perth City Super 5 (2.35km)
Leg two concluded with a final visit to the floodlit Super
Special in Perth, where thousands of spectators and more head-to-head
racing created an electrifying atmosphere. Completing the abrasive
figure of eight course fastest on both attempts, Rovanpera claimed both
stage wins and ended the day in overnight second. Loeb took a fourth and
fifth fastest time to retain an overnight lead of 1 minute 20.5 seconds,
while Duval was third and second fastest to hold overnight third. Ever
the showman, and with the competitive pressure off, Petter Solberg
thrilled the crowds with an exuberant display, drifting his Subaru
sideways around the track and launching it high into the air over the
Fastest Stage Time: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 1:33.2
It's been a good day, the car has felt strong and we made a couple of adjustments in the service before SS15 that really made another positive step. For sure, I'm not attacking the stages as I would if I was still fighting for the win, but it's still good fun out there, I like these conditions a lot and by re-starting we can still put on a show for the spectators.
There were no mistakes and no major problems with the car. The set-up wasn't great in the morning, but we've been experimenting with roll bars, damper settings and springs and now it's getting better and is nice to drive. There's been a lot of loose gravel on the road and running second certainly hasn't helped. For tomorrow, I'm sure the situation with running positions will be much the same. I'll be one of the first through so will be cleaning the road again, but I like tomorrow's stages. They're even faster than today's and a little bit wider so you can go sideways more. I think it will be good fun.
Team Principal, David Lapworth
Despite the disappointment of not being in the fight for the lead, we've had a very useful day of testing with Petter and he's shown yet again the potential of the car in these conditions. We've learned a few more things about the Australian roads that will certainly help us in the future. Mikko too has picked up more experience on this surface, he's not made a mistake all day and is becoming more confident with every kilometre."
News from Pirelli
, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
Although we are no longer looking for overall results with Petter who is now running under the FIA re-start system, it has been a very positive day, in which we've gained a lot of experience by trying out different set-ups and tyre combinations. With five fastest times on the forest stages, Petter underlines his status as the quickest driver today, while Mikko is very close to his first career podium.
Sunday 14 November 2004
The third and final Leg of Rally Australia starts at 0530hrs, when the first car will leave Perth parc ferme. The remaining crews will then contest six final stages and 127.83 competitive kilometres. The event and 2004 FIA World Rally Championship season will conclude when the winning car crosses the finish ramp at 1600hrs.