WRC

Rally of Turkey: Subaru leg two summary

Petter Solberg put in an excellent performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 today, winning two special stages, holding third position overall, and increasing the pressure on the leaders of the Rally of Turkey. Subaru's young gun...

Petter Solberg put in an excellent performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2004 today, winning two special stages, holding third position overall, and increasing the pressure on the leaders of the Rally of Turkey. Subaru's young gun Mikko Hirvonen also impressed with another measured drive, setting a string of impressive times against fierce competition, as well as gaining vital experience of the specialist terrain. With just four more stages, and less than 80 competitive kilometres remaining, the scene is set for a thrilling finale tomorrow.

SS8 Perge 1 (22.28km)

A new day and a brand new stage for all competitors, the 22km Perge section was going to be included last year but was cancelled because heavy rainfall had damaged it so badly. On drier stage conditions than those seen on Leg one, overall rally leader Sebastien Loeb was fastest to extend the gap between himself and second placed Marcus Gronholm to 16 seconds. Francois Duval was second fastest, enough to move up to fourth overall at the expense of Carlos Sainz who dropped to fifth. Petter Solberg was fourth fastest to maintain his third place overall, while Mikko Hirvonen was seventh, seven seconds faster than Gilles Panizzi who had re-started the rally after retiring on Leg one. Panizzi's Mitsubishi team mate, Gigi Galli, experienced a turbo problem with his Lancer WRC and lost more than two minutes.
Fastest: Loeb (Citroen) 15:16.2

SS9 Kumluca 1 (36.10km)

The longest stage of the rally was also one of the most complex, and presented crews with a wide variety of road conditions. Starting twisty and narrow, it leads on to one of the roughest sections of the event, before a flat-out dash to the finish, except for a bumpy section through a village near the end. The last 10km are uncharacteristically smooth, and according to Petter's co-driver Phil Mills, have more in common with the roads in Finland or New Zealand. A 10 second jump start penalty and poor stage time from Loeb cost him the top spot on the leaderboard and Marcus Gronholm, who set the fastest time through the stage, became the new leader of the rally. Francois Duval continued to push hard and was second quickest, while Petter Solberg was right behind in third. Mikko Hirvonen was seventh, to extend his lead over compatriot Janne Tuohino. Gigi Galli's turbo problem persisted and the Italian lost another 10 minutes, which dropped him from 15th to 24th overall. After the stage crews returned to Kemer for a 20 minute service.
Fastest: Gronholm (Peugeot) 28:09.7

SS10 Perge 2 (22.28km)

Keen to re-take the lead he'd lost on the previous stage, Loeb hit back on the repeat pass through the 22km Perge test and set the fastest time to reduce Gronholm's advantage by four seconds. With the worst of the loose gravel swept off the road during the first pass, Loeb's winning time on the repeat run was 13 seconds quicker than before. Gronholm, who was second quickest, now held the overall lead by a slender 2.5 seconds, while Petter Solberg was third quickest to hold third overall. The stage brought difficulties for Francois Duval, when his Ford Focus suffered a front-right drive-shaft problem that cost him around 30 seconds. The 23-year-old Belgian dropped back down behind Sainz to fifth place overall. Mikko Hirvonen completed the test a credible 18 seconds off the lead-time. Way down in 36th place overall after his mechanical problems yesterday Markko Martin enjoyed a better run on the stage and was fourth fastest, but picked up a 40 second time penalty for leaving the preceding service five minutes late.
Fastest: Loeb (Citroen) 15:03.9

SS11 Kumluca 2 (36.10km)

Another stage win from Loeb, combined with problems for Gronholm, meant the Frenchman moved back up into the lead of the rally by a margin of 14 seconds. Second fastest through the stage was Harri Rovanpera, who jumped from sixth to fourth overall as a result. Petter Solberg was third fastest and narrowed the gap on second place to just 14 seconds. Gronholm dropped around 16 seconds after a bizarre mid-stage incident when a metal bar lying on the road punched a hole in the cockpit floor of his Peugeot 307WRC and broke the underside of his co-driver's seat. Gronholm was alerted to the problem by shouts from co-driver Timo Rautiainen, but after assessing the situation the pair carried on and completed the stage. Mikko Hirvonen's encouraging pace continued, and despite driving the last five kilometres with a badly punctured tyre, the Finn still managed to set the eighth quickest time. After the finish line crews drove straight to Kemer for a 20-minute service.
Fastest: Loeb (Citroen) 27:39.2

SS12 Chimera (16.45km)

Fresh from service, Petter Solberg was fastest through the brand new Chimera test and collected his second stage win of the rally. Sebastien Loeb was second and Marcus Gronholm third. Approaching the end of the Leg, the competition between the front-runners intensified and the three were closer than they had been at any point since SS5. Subaru's young driver signing Mikko Hirvonen continued to impress on the Turkish stages and he completed the stage just 18 seconds slower than his World Champion team mate.
Fastest: Solberg (Subaru) 11:54.8

SS13 Kemer 2 (20.39km)

Once again Petter Solberg was in unbeatable form and the Norwegian completed the day's final stage five seconds quicker than anyone else. His second consecutive stage win made things tighter at the top of the overall leaderboard and Petter moved another five seconds closer to second-place. Marcus Gronholm was second fastest through the stage, hotly pursued by Sebastien Loeb who was just 0.1 seconds behind. Fourth fastest Carlos Sainz was a full 10 seconds behind the leaders and there was a pronounced gap in the stage times between the rest of the field and the battling trio of Solberg, Loeb and Gronholm. Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera stopped mid-way though the stage with a gearbox problem and retired when he was unable to continue.
Fastest: Solberg (Subaru) 14:18.2

Team Quotes

Petter Solberg
It's been a very good day. I'm very pleased with the performance of the car and the tyres have done well in these very warm conditions - occasionally we have struggled, but that's how it is. The last two stages were much colder and the feeling with the car was very good. I feel confident about tomorrow and I have a chance to push Marcus a little bit. Maybe he'll have to do a small mistake or something, but I'll be trying like hell in the morning to get up there and take some time. I'm going to fight to the end.

Mikko Hirvonen
Today we had some good stages apart from some small problems. Because it was so warm we were on the limit of the tyres all the time. I'm harder on the tyres than Petter, so this was more of a problem for me. I think that the gap to Duval is too great but we must keep pushing in case he has another problem. It's been a tougher rally than I expected with some really big stones being thrown into the middle of the road. Three times today some got caught under the sump guard causing the car to jump off-line. From then on we took things a little steady and drove around many of them.

David Lapworth, Team Principal
We've done everything we could today, Petter's kept up his pace and has finished with two very impressive times and has closed the gap down to just over half a minute. We just need a little bit more luck, the pressure is still on the others and anything can happen. Mikko has again focused on specific areas of development and has gained valuable experience from today's stages. Another measured performance from him tomorrow will hopefully pay dividends and there's every chance he could finish with a top five result.

News from Pirelli

Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
Conditions today were certainly very difficult. The tyres have had to cope with formidable demands because of the hard stage surfaces and very high temperatures. Thanks to the well known resilience of the Pirelli P Zero XR3 tyre Petter has been able to keep his rivals at bay and maintain a strong third position.

Team Talk
Keeping cool in Turkey

After a comparatively cool Leg one, drivers had to cope with higher temperatures on Leg two of Rally Turkey. Here are some facts concerning the heat and the way the Subaru team helps Petter and Mikko keep their cool:

At 9am the air temperature in service was 30ºC and by 3pm it had reached 39ºC. Due to the altitude, the air temperature on the stages was lower, but inside the cars it reached 35ºC

* Between 0730hrs and 1930hrs Petter and Mikko drunk approximately 12 litres of fluid to replace that lost through sweating. The Subaru team doctor, Ignacio Muro, and trainer John Mills of the Human Performance department monitored hydration levels regularly and prepared special drinks to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance

* Petter, Phil, Mikko and Jarmo all wore the new Alpinestars lightweight two-layer overalls that were introduced for the Acropolis Rally earlier this month. Showers were available at the service area, together with fresh race-suits chilled in a freezer for maximum refreshment!

* To keep the cockpit temperatures down, and in addition to the fresh air fans under the dashboard, roof scoops have been fitted to direct streams of air down to the driver and co-driver. Further heat reducing measures on the cars for Turkey include light reflective glass and reflective white panels on the roof

* As part of their acclimatisation training, Mikko trained at home in Finland wearing several layers of clothing while Petter has endured a 40 minute sauna every day for the last two weeks. On the recce, Petter and Mikko both wore warm clothing and switched off their cars' air conditioning systems to help them get used to the conditions

Tomorrow's Leg
Sunday 27 June 2004

Starts at 0630hrs, when cars leave Kemer parc ferme to contest the final four stages (two repeated) and the remaining 77 competitive kilometres. The opening 33km Olympos stage starts at 0748hrs, and the winning car will cross the finish ramp back in Kemer at 1431hrs.

-subaru-

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team