Rally New Zealand: Subary leg two summary

Starters: Sixty-four of the original 68 starters left parc ferme at 0900hrs this morning Route: Leg two, the longest of the event, included eight stages and 139.49 competitive kilometres. The day concluded with two passes through the super ...

Starters: Sixty-four of the original 68 starters left parc ferme at 0900hrs this morning

Route: Leg two, the longest of the event, included eight stages and 139.49 competitive kilometres. The day concluded with two passes through the super special stage at Manukau

Weather: After overnight rain, skies were overcast in the morning, but brightened in the afternoon. There were some light, localised showers. The air temperature started at 16C, rising to 25C by the afternoon and stages were a mixture of damp and dry gravel

Leaderboard: Loeb, Gronholm, Solberg, Duval, Gardemeister, Martin, Atkinson, Galli, Rovanpera, Stohl

Retirements: No leading WRC retirements

Subaru World Rally Team Summary Issued: 9 April 2005Petter Solberg scored three stage wins and moved up from fourth to third position on Rally New Zealand today. Despite having to use tyres that weren't ideally suited to the dry and hot conditions, the Norwegian pushed hard to reach the top-three and is on course to achieve his objective of a podium finish tomorrow. Chris Atkinson continued to learn aboard his Subaru Impreza WRC2005, setting some impressive split times and experimenting with his car's set-up and tyres. On only his third event in a WRC-class car, Chris holds overnight seventh place.

Stage Reports S9: 0923 Wairere (18.92km)

After overnight rain, some sections of the opening 18.92km stage from Wairere were very slippery, especially in the first 4km. Including three bridge crossings and a narrow and twisty section, the test also featured 1km of smooth tarmac. Beginning with a 23.1 second advantage, Sebastien Loeb was fastest, with Subaru's Petter Solberg second and Francois Duval third. Most of the leading WRC drivers had opted to run on medium-hard compound tyres to obtain the maximum grip in the variable conditions. Subaru's Chris Atkinson was ninth fastest. After struggling through the afternoon of Leg one with a broken alternator, Mitsubishi's Gigi Galli was tenth fastest to remain in the same position overall. After the finish, crews drove a 12km section to the start of SS10. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:21.9

SS10: 1001 Cassidy 1 (15.78km)

As the air temperature rose to 21C, the loose gravel surface of the 15.78km test from Cassidy was drying rapidly as cars made their first pass through. Running tenth on the road and enjoying a better road position than on Leg one, Solberg was no longer sweeping the loose surface clean for those following and was second fastest. He moved up to third position overall, one second behind second place. Loeb took the win, while Atkinson was fifth fastest ahead of Markko Martin, Toni Gardemeister and Gigi Galli. Mitsubishi's Harri Rovanpera lost around ten seconds with a tyre vibration. The stage finish was situated 0.57km from the start line of SS11. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 9:07.3

SS11: 1024 Bull 1 (31.73km)

As the longest of the event, the 31.73km stage from the town of Bull provided the best opportunity for competitors to make their mark on the leaderboard. Petter Solberg stormed through the test fastest to move ahead of Gronholm and into second position overall. Gronholm was second fastest, Loeb was third while Chris Atkinson was seventh. Including a twisty, tricky section at the start, the stage surface was by now mainly dry, although some damp sections remained in shaded areas. Once the stage was complete, crews returned to Paparoa for a 30-minute service. Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 19:36.3

SS12: 1303 Waipu Caves (21.35km)

A new stage for 2005, the 21km test from Waipu Caves included a 3km smooth tarmac section and a flat-out finish that featured a sequence of blind crests. Setting an average speed of 109.88kph, Petter Solberg was fastest and clawed back 2.6 seconds of Loeb's overall lead while taking his third win of the event. Gronholm was second fastest and Loeb third. As the skies brightened and the air temperature rose to 24C, Chris Atkinson was seventh fastest, 0.1 seconds quicker than Peugeot's Markko Martin who was eighth. A good run by Gigi Galli saw the Italian finish fifth, his best result of the rally so far. There were no leading retirements and, after the finish, crews moved to the Cassidy stage for a second pass through. Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 11:39.5

SS13: 1339 Cassidy 2 (15.78km)

Event leader Sebastien Loeb was fastest through the repeated 15.78km stage, with Gronholm second and Duval, under strict team-orders to complete the event, third. Despite a notorious blind junction over a crest and a reputation as one of the trickiest stages of the rally, the WRC pack emerged relatively unscathed from the Cassidy stage. The only exception was Gigi Galli who lost 20 seconds with a spin. Petter Solberg was fifth fastest and dropped back to third overall, while Atkinson was seventh. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 8:54.2

SS14: 1402 Bull 2 (31.78km)

With much of the loose gravel already swept from the road during the first pass, conditions on the Bull stage were very different on the repeat. With a clean, hard-packed surface, the stage almost resembled an asphalt road in places, and this, combined with the uncharacteristically warm weather caused problems for many drivers - especially those who had nominated tyres on the expectation of cooler, wetter conditions. Gigi Galli struggled when the rubber of his front-left tyre came away from the rim 14km from the finish. His team-mate Rovanpera also reported heavy wear, while Subaru drivers Solberg and Atkinson pushed their tyres to the absolute limit to finish fifth and seventh fastest respectively. Sebastien Loeb was fastest, with Gronholm second and Duval third. The results of the stage bought no change to the overall top ten, but Rovanpera's time made his ninth place vulnerable to attack from Citroen privateer Manfred Stohl who lay 1.9 seconds behind in tenth. After the stage was complete, crews returned to Paparoa for a 45-minute service. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 18:58.7

SS15: 1930 Manukau Super 1 (2.10km)

Fastest Stage Time: Solberg (Subaru) 1:23.5

SS16: 1951 Manukau Super 2 (2.10km)

Leg two concluded with two sprints round the purpose-built super special stage at Manukau City, 20 minutes south of Auckland. Thousands of spectators filled the floodlit arena to watch the head-to-head action as the drivers put their cars through their paces on the figure-of-eight course. Negotiating the stage's jump and water splash on the first pass, Solberg was fastest and Martin second, while Schwarz and Gronholm set exactly the same time to tie for third. On the second pass, Gronholm took the top spot with Martin, Rovanpera and Duval finishing joint second. Fastest Stage Time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 1:23.9

Team Quotes

Petter Solberg: It's almost they same as yesterday - the first time through we're fastest, and the second time we're struggling. It seems the other teams have an advantage on the repeated stages, they have a different tyre and it's working well. I tried my best to change my driving style to cut down the wear, but it's very difficult to do anything. Tomorrow will be a very interesting day. Marcus and I will have a good fight in the morning I think, but in the afternoon, unless we get some rain, I think we will struggle. Of course I want to win every rally I start, but I can honestly say that I will be happy to finish third tomorrow!

Chris Atkinson: It's been another useful day and we've learned a lot about the new car and this event. Like Petter we had a few problems with tyre wear on the later stages, but overall the set-up changes we've made have taken us in the right direction. In terms of pace, I'm happy with the speed that we had today, we weren't pushing hard or taking risks and were able to experiment with a few different settings. We're not chasing World Championships yet, just the experience.

Team Principal, David Lapworth : Our tyre choice for the rally was compromised to account for being first on the road on Friday and the possibility of rain. Because of this, we don't have our normal choice of tyre for these conditions and that's held Petter back a little today. Despite this, Petter is still on course to achieve the podium we came here for, and that would maintain our Championship position. Chris continues to learn, doing exactly what we asked him to do. He has experimented with tyres and the car set-up and has learned some invaluable lessons for next year. I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do tomorrow. Hopefully, the predicted rain showers will allow him the chance to drive in different stage conditions.

Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager, Fiore Brivio: Congratulations to Petter for another good drive today. His intelligent choice of the Pirelli KM4 tyre this morning allowed him to make the most of the earlier damp conditions and set him up for an exciting fight with Marcus Gronholm over the rest of the Leg. We look forward to seeing it continue tomorrow.


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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team