Starters 81 of the original 85 crews left the service park this morning for leg two. Route Today's leg was the longest of the rally and featured 10 timed stages and a total competitive distance of 146.68km. In addition, crews covered a...
81 of the original 85 crews left the service park this morning for leg two.
Today's leg was the longest of the rally and featured 10 timed stages and a total competitive distance of 146.68km. In addition, crews covered a massive 469.78km of road sections to get to and from the special stages. Once again, the leg finished with two passes of the Obihiro SuperSpecial.
While it held off during the day, overnight rain had made the roads muddy and soft. Warmer than yesterday, the temperature varied from five to 10 degrees Celsius.
Pons (Subaru); Loeb (Citroen); Latvala (Ford)
Subaru World Rally Team summary
After a disappointing first leg of Rally Japan, when the Subaru team lost any realistic chance of a home rally win, Petter Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills were back on stage winning form on today's second leg of competition. Solberg netted four outright stage wins in a drama-filled day, during which treacherous conditions led to plenty of incidents and the retirement of two of yesterday's top-three drivers.
Having retired on leg one with a gear selection problem Petter and Phil restarted this morning with a fresh gearbox fitted to their Impreza WRC2007. Running first on the road, and contending with a lot of loose gravel and mud, they experienced grip difficulties early on but, feeling more comfortable towards the end of the morning loop, recorded a string of stage wins. Pushing hard to salvage some good stage times from a difficult two days, the duo were fastest on stages 14, 15, 16 and 18. The wins provided some consolation for the team and the thousands of Subaru and Solberg fans who lined the stages.
Xevi Pons started the day feeling more comfortable with his Impreza and was running seventh overall until the second stage of the day (SS12) when a broken front suspension component caused his car to slide off the road at a low speed corner. Xevi's car became beached on some soft ground and despite his best efforts, and those of co-driver Xevi Amigo, he was unable to rejoin. Pons retired from the leg but will restart Sunday's third and final day of competition.
Richard Taylor, Subaru World Rally Team managing director: "Unfortunately today we had more frustration as Xevi Pons retired on only the second stage of the morning. Although most of the remaining crews are now driving tactically, it was good for the team and the fans to see Petter set four fastest stage times today. Tomorrow he and Xevi will continue to drive for the Subaru fans and push for more good performances."
CAR NUMBER 7
Petter Solberg: "The four stage wins today are very important for us and Subaru, proving that we can set fastest times. Unfortunately yesterday's problems dropped us out of any points-scoring position, but I am happier with the pace we have now. This morning I wasn't so comfortable with the car but after making a few changes it is clearly working better. It is important for the fans that we are still pushing hard. Even though we do not have a proper result this weekend, we are not giving up, that's for sure."
CAR NUMBER 17
Xevi Pons: "It is a shame that we were unable to compete on any stages this afternoon after going off the road during SS12 this morning. It's been a frustrating day for me, but we will restart tomorrow morning for the final leg determined to put on a good show for Subaru and learn more about the car in these conditions."
Leg two fastest stage times
SS11 Rikubetsu 3 (2.73km) Loeb / Elena 2m 06.8s
SS12 Puray 1 (34.96km) Hirvonen / Lehtinen 19m 28.4s
SS13 Niueo 1 (20.75km) Sordo / Marti 12m 31.3s
SS14 Sipirkakim (22.43km) Solberg / Mills 12m 13.1s
SS15 Rikubetsu 4 (2.73km) Solberg / Mills 2m 05.6s
SS16 Puray 2 (34.96km) Solberg / Mills 19m 01.0s
SS17 Niueo 2 (20.75km) Sordo / Marti 12m 17.5s
SS18 Sipirkakim Short (4.67km) Solberg / Mills 2m 42.4s
SS19 Obihiro 3 (1.35km) Villagra / Diaz 1m 21.4s
SS20 Obihiro 4 (1.35km) Villagra / Diaz 1m 22.0s
Tomorrow's leg will take the competitors through the final seven stages of the rally in two loops to the north west of Obihiro and a final run of the Obihiro Superspecial. The leg is the shortest of the rally but still totals 97.33 competitive kilometres, taking the total rally stage distance to 350.19km.