WRC

Rally Finland: Leg two summary

Rally Finland Leg 2 News Tuohino re-started this morning in fourth but endured a difficult day, slipping behind both Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb on the leaderboard. He dropped a handful of seconds after stalling the engine at the start of ...

Rally Finland Leg 2 News

Tuohino re-started this morning in fourth but endured a difficult day, slipping behind both Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb on the leaderboard. He dropped a handful of seconds after stalling the engine at the start of stage 13 and will start tomorrow's final leg 6.9sec behind Loeb.

"It wasn't a bad day but it wasn't a good one either," said 29-year-old Tuohino. "The only problem was with the driver and I didn't really set any good times. I didn't find the right braking line and I don't know why. I made a few small mistakes and it just didn't go as well as yesterday. I really like tomorrow's stages so maybe we will be better. The car has been working really well so it's just me that needs to increase my pace."

The final day brings competitors back closer to Jyväskylä. After a 07.00 restart, drivers tackle two identical loops of two stages close to the town of Keuruu, west of the rally base. They face 95.26km of competition before the finish ceremony back in Jyväskylä at 14.40.

Peugeot

Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm heads into the final leg of the Rally Finland tomorrow with a 35 second lead. The Finn is just 95 competitive kilometres away from sealing the first victory for the 307 WRC. Marcus has led from the sixth stage of his home event, and notched up another 4 stage wins today.

Marcus Gronhölm / Timo Rautiainen: The three-time Rally Finland winner said: "Today has not been an easy day, but I'm delighted to be leading. We started off with a feeling that was quite all right, but still not completely perfect. Then we had the gearbox problem that was a real worry, but we actually lost less time than I thought we would. The last stages were fine, but I could not relax for a minute. We have to keep pushing hard until the very end."

Harri Rovanperä / Risto Pietiläinen: Harri Rovanpera was unfortunately forced to retire from the lead after an accident on SS6 yesterday, having set four fastest stage times.

Sebastian Lindholm / ...: Sebastian Lindholm, making his debut in the 307 WRC, started today in second place after a scintillating drive yesterday that saw him challenge Marcus all the way. But his charge was halted by an accident on SS12, Ouninpohja, which forced him into retirement on the spot. Sebastian will re-start tomorrow's leg under the trial of the new Superally system. "We ran a little wide on a 90 degree right hand corner in Ouninpohja and the back wheel dropped into a ditch," said Sebastian. "We slid along the ditch for a little while and I thought that we would probably get away with it, but then the back wheel hit a rock and that caused the car to roll. I'm very disappointed, as we were going hard, but not crazy."

Citroen

On the difficult 'north face' of the Championship, otherwise known as the Finnish round, the two Xsara WRCs of Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti and Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena continued today the methodical ascent they started yesterday.

Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: The day's opening sequence included the first trip through the legendary stage of Ouninpohja, a 33-km toboggan ride, which takes place at an average speed of 130 km/h. "The stage was damp, and I think softer tyres would have been better suited," Carlos Sainz said afterwards. "We are making progress. On this terrain, it is very important to have a car that is perfectly stable under braking, which is rarely in a straight line." Sébastien Loeb, who did a quick < 360° > spin, underlined the difficulty of the event. "We are in sixth gear almost all the time, and many corners, at this speed, unballast the car. It is easy to get caught out, and that was nearly what happened." Sébastien Loeb wat the end of the day: "We found the settings which enabled us to be on the right pace. Barring incidents, the positions will not change, but I have to keep an eye on Janne Tuohino, in order to contain him and finish the event without making any mistakes."

Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti: The second loop took the drivers back to Ouninpohja, and Carlos, in excellent shape, set the fastest time. "This result shows that we are going in the right direction," the Madrid-based-driver said delightedly. "The car is much more stable, just as I wanted it." Due to weather worries, both Xsaras had put on soft tyres. "If we could do it over again," Seb admitted, "I would have used harder tyres. It didn't rain, and by the end of the stage, my tyres had lost some of their efficiency. Apart from that, I am satisfied with the behaviour of my Xsara." When the time came to draw up the day's report, during the evening service area, Carlos was far from unhappy : "Even if we had to do a lot of road section in order to reach the special stages in the south, it was a pleasant day. We tried some things which proved successful. With the current balance of the car, I am confident and ready for tomorrow."

Subaru

Taking full advantage of the FIA's re-start system, Petter Solberg joined the remaining WRC competitors this morning to tackle Leg two of Rally Finland. Although still not feeling his best, thanks to a dose of flu, the Norwegian dominated the action and was fastest on five of the day's seven forest stages. Solberg's most impressive performance came on the formidable Ouninpohja stage, when he smashed the previous record by seven seconds. On the advice of the Subaru team doctor, Petter later withdrew from the Leg before the evening super special so he could recuperate ahead of the third and final day. With his own Impreza WRC repaired during the day, Mikko will also re-join the rally with Petter tomorrow.

Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: "It's good fun to drive on these roads, you really can't beat the feeling. Okay, I'm not quite in top physical form, but it's always good to get more experience and play a bit with the set-up. I'm certainly keen to get back out on the stages again tomorrow, but my nose is blocked and I'm feeling pretty exhausted, so right now I'm just looking forward to getting to my bed."

Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen: Retired

Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Markko Märtin and Michael Park continued to defy the odds to end the second day of the Rally Finland in second place. Despite not being fully fit as he continues his recovery from last month's massive accident in Argentina, the 28-year-old Estonian driver powered his Ford Focus RS World Rally Car up from third during today's mammoth 16-hour leg to head the challenge to leader Marcus Grönholm. Finns Janne Tuohino and Jukka Aho returned to the rally base in Jyväskylä in fifth in a similar Focus RS after a difficult day. And Ford BP team-mates François Duval and Stéphane Prévot hold ninth in another Focus RS as Ford proved the dominant manufacturer tonight on the leaderboard of this ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Markko Martin / Michael Park: "I've driven safely but not flat out," he said. "There is a big gap between Marcus and myself and we'll need outside help if we are to win because there's no way I can catch him unless he hits trouble. I have to ensure I don't make any mistakes now and there is no point in attacking too much tomorrow. We need to regain more than 30 seconds and the most we could probably achieve is a handful. I hope I can keep second at this pace but there are many kilometres remaining. Many drivers have held a top three placing and lost it, so I'll try not to do that."

Janne Touhino / ... : Tuohino re-started this morning in fourth but endured a difficult day, slipping behind both Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb on the leaderboard. He dropped a handful of seconds after stalling the engine at the start of stage 13 and will start tomorrow's final leg 6.9sec behind Loeb. "It wasn't a bad day but it wasn't a good one either," said 29-year-old Tuohino. "The only problem was with the driver and I didn't really set any good times. I didn't find the right braking line and I don't know why. I made a few small mistakes and it just didn't go as well as yesterday. I really like tomorrow's stages so maybe we will be better. The car has been working really well so it's just me that needs to increase my pace."

Francios Duval / Stefan Prevot: Tuohino re-started this morning in fourth but endured a difficult day, slipping behind both Carlos Sainz and Sebastien Loeb on the leaderboard. He dropped a handful of seconds after stalling the engine at the start of stage 13 and will start tomorrow's final leg 6.9sec behind Loeb. "It wasn't a bad day but it wasn't a good one either," said 29-year-old Tuohino. "The only problem was with the driver and I didn't really set any good times. I didn't find the right braking line and I don't know why. I made a few small mistakes and it just didn't go as well as yesterday. I really like tomorrow's stages so maybe we will be better. The car has been working really well so it's just me that needs to increase my pace."

Mitsubishi

The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports crew of Kristian Sohlberg and Kaj Lindström were forced into a disappointing retirement during the second leg of Rally Finland after upping the pace and trading split times with the leading crews. Team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi hold 11th place in this, the ninth round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Gilles Panizzi / Herve Panizzi: Team-mates Gilles and Hervé Panizzi have moved two places up the leaderboard and now hold 11th, although the French crew suffered with charging problems in the second stage this morning. "It was an alternator problem but otherwise things have been okay", commented Gilles. "We are getting more and more experience of the car in these conditions and are gaining very useful experience of the stages in Finland. Obviously this brings more confidence kilometer by kilometer".

Kristian Sohlberg / Kaj Lindström: Kristian and Kaj Lindstrom held eighth position in their Lancer WRC04 when they were forced into retirement in stage 14, the famous Ouninpohja stage that is also one of Kristian's favorites. "We were a few centimeters off line when we hit a small dip in the road which sent us off into a ditch", commented Kristian. "We then hit a stone, lost the right rear wheel and essentially took out the whole corner of the car. It then spun backwards for 100 meters and that was that. We weren't even pushing hard; we were going the same speed as we have all rally and taking no risks. It's all the more disappointing as both Marcus Grönholm and François Duval both then had problems, and you never know what could have happened if we were still in the rally". Due to a combination of time and damage, the crew will not re-start the final leg.

Skoda

The ©koda Motorsport Team heads into tonight's superspecial at Killeri with Jani Paasonen, Toni Gardemeister and Armin Schwarz holding sixth, eighth and 12th places in Rally Finland respectively. In a similar performance to yesterday, Jani has once again demonstrated the capabilities of the Fabia WRC by setting top 10 stage times on each of the day's seven forest stages and is 50.2s behind the rally leader after 285.39kms. Toni has been in the top 10 on six occasions with ©koda Motorsport's Finnish duo sharing sixth fastest time on SS14, the famous Ouninpohja stage where spectators gather in their thousands to watch the cars fly over its spectacular sequence of jumps.

Toni Gardemeister / Paavo Lukander: "This morning I really couldn't find any grip at all and it affected my confidence. I couldn't trust how the car would handle and it was reflected in my stage times but the feeling got better as the day went on and hopefully tomorrow I will be able to gain at least another place."

Armin Schwarz / Manfred Hiemer: "I am sticking to my plan to drive carefully and try to be sure to finish the rally. We saw today that it is so easy to make a mistake on this rally and in Finland even the smallest mistake can have a big penalty. I had some brake problems today but they didn't affect my position."

Jani Paasonen / Jani Vainikka: "Today was full of difficult stages but that's where you can gain time on your rivals if you are able to push. The car was perfect and I think my road position was equally perfect. Tomorrow's four stages are not so difficult and so it won't be easy to catch or be caught so I will drive safely and try to keep my present position."

-fia/wrc-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team