SÃ©bastien Loeb (Citroen) won the second stage but his challenge suffered a huge blow on the next stage in Ouninpohja. The Frenchman hit a huge rock which threw his car onto two wheels and broke the front left wheel. He dropped more than 30sec.
Sébastien Loeb (Citroen) won the second stage but his challenge suffered a huge blow on the next stage in Ouninpohja. The Frenchman hit a huge rock which threw his car onto two wheels and broke the front left wheel. He dropped more than 30sec. Petter Solberg (Subaru), fourth after the opening leg, crashed heavily just 700m after the start of the first Ouninpohja test and retired. His car is too badly damaged to restart tomorrow. His demise allowed brother Henning (Peugeot) into fourth, although the Norwegian struggled with brake problems all day. Dani Sordo (Citroen) climbed to fifth before he crashed heavily on the second pass through Ouninpohja. He will not restart tomorrow. That allowed Gigi Galli (Peugeot) to move to fifth with Janne Tuohino (Citroen) rounding off the top six. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) broke his gearbox in the opening stage and had to limp through all three morning stages, losing more than 11 minutes. Then his car's power steering broke and he dropped a further two minutes on the penultimate stage. He lies 13th.
Kronos Total Citroen
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena started this morning determined to challenge for victory in their duel against Marcus Grönholm. They conceded little in Vaheri (SS10) - 1.7 seconds - and won Ouninpohja Länsi (SS11). So for the first time, they beat the five-time winner of this event on its most legendary stage, averaging more than 128 kph. "I thought I drove the stage perfectly, " said Seb afterwards. " But in the end my winning margin was just a tiny 1.3 seconds ! " Their tussle for the lead sadly came to an end on the next Ouninpohja stage.
Sebastien Loeb: " On the inside of a corner that was marked as a cut in my notes, we hit a big stone that threw the car into the air. The wheel was too damaged for the anti-deflation mousse to work effectively, so we ended the stage with a flat tyre. Many other drivers hit that stone, including Marcus Grönholm. He's been driving that corner since 1989 and never noted it. This makes me think that year after year, we're probably cutting corners deeper and deeper. Well, we're not going to cut it any further right at that exact point. "
Daniel Sordo: "After a right-hand corner over a crest, I landed a bit too sideways, " explained Dani . " As the car landed it snapped to the outside of the corner, where there was a rock face. " The reigning Junior World Champion has only experienced this sort of mishap once since he started rallying . " To make things even worse, I was just stuck in the ditch, unable to get going again ! " he added.
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team has reason to be satisfied with the second day of the "Neste Oil Rally Finland". Henning Solberg consolidated his fourth overall place. And Manfred Stohl even gained eight places and currently lies in ninth place
Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: "We did our best. Now we'll have to wait and see. But like one has seen today: in Finland even a short special stage can become a stumbling block."
Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "When it is dry you can see the difference to the works cars. Our Peugeot 307 WRC was perfectly prepared by Bozian-Racing but they have ressources we can't tap. Nevertheless, now that we have a kind of draw, I can enjoy driving even more. That is something to take advantage of in Finland."
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen dominated today's second leg of Rally Finland to strengthen their lead. The Finns, chasing their sixth victory here in seven years, were fastest on seven of the eight speed tests in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to return to the rally base in Jyväskylä tonight with a lead of 67.8sec. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen reinforced their third position in a similar Focus RS.
Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen: "There is still another day to go, so it's not finished yet. But it did get easier for us when Loeb lost time. I didn't go crazy after that and took the jumps quite steadily and I will do the same tomorrow. There were a few rocks in the road on the second pass through the stages and I concentrated on avoiding them. The stages have been so fast today and that's the way it is on this rally,"
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "When we heard Petter had crashed I really dropped my pace. But when you slow it's easy to lose rhythm and the one thing you need in Finland is a good rhythm. So I picked up the speed a little because it was easier to drive that way but I know that I need to finish and get the points for the team, so it wasn't a big attack. I tried to push Loeb but he controlled his speed well.
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford
The second Leg of Rally Finland turned out to be a frustrating one for the Subaru team, as lead driver Petter Solberg crashed out of fourth place and two mechanical problems dropped Chris Atkinson from sixth to 21st. The day started well for Solberg, who set the third fastest time on the opening test, but a crash on the next brought his event to a sudden and premature end. Once Atkinson's problems dropped him out of contention for a podium finish, his focus switched to building experience and testing ahead of forthcoming gravel events. Despite this, by the end of the Leg he had climbed back up to 13th overall.
Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: 'We were coming into a long left-hand corner, went over a crest with a little under-steer and then hit a rock face on the right-hand side. I thought it would be alright, but the car spun around and we ended up rolling. Phil and I are both okay, but the car was quite badly damaged. Despite this, I'm still feeling positive about everything we have done so far and know we have taken something good from this weekend. We have found some improvements and we tried something in the first stage today which was quite positive too, however we still need to work on the consistency. We have a test coming up for Rally Japan now and we have identified some more areas to work on. I've got a good feeling about the next rally and I'm definitely not giving up at all.'
Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: 'Today we had a couple of technical problems that dropped us down the order. When we had a clear run we were encouraged to be competitive on stages we had never driven at speed before, and managed to move up the order. For tomorrow the focus is on testing and working with the team to continue to develop the car.'