Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) controlled his advantage over Petter Solberg (Subaru) at the head of the field and last night's gap scarcely varied. However, the Frenchman then set a blistering time to win the final test by almost 20sec to increase his...
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) controlled his advantage over Petter Solberg (Subaru) at the head of the field and last night's gap scarcely varied. However, the Frenchman then set a blistering time to win the final test by almost 20sec to increase his lead over the Norwegian to 55.2sec. Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi) leads the fight for third, 13.2sec ahead of Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot), who has recovered superbly from yesterday's roll. Markko Martin (Peugeot) is 5.9sec behind. Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi) dropped 45 minutes in stage eight when an engine sensor failed and forced him to make emergency roadside repairs. He lost more time on the last stage when the semi-automatic gearchange system failed and he had to switch to the manual back-up system. Chris Atkinson (Subaru) retired for the second consecutive day after hitting a rock near the finish of stage eight. The impact broke his car's front right suspension. Team-mate Stephane Sarrazin was also sidelined with a broken clutch just 7km from the end of the final stage. A broken clutch early in stage 10 also stopped ninth-placed Armin Schwarz (Skoda).
Sixty-five of the original 66 competitors left Olbia parc ferme at 0800hrs this morning
Leg two included five stages, two of which were repeated, and a total competitive distance of 144km. The stages were based west and south west of the service park in Olbia, in the Monte Acuto region
Conditions were bright and sunny throughout the day. The air temperature was 20C in the morning, rising to 28C in the afternoon. Stages were dry gravel
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena succeeded in controlling from in front throughout Leg 2 and their efforts have seen them extend their cushion over Petter Solberg from 31.7s this morning to 55.2s tonight. Meanwhile, Francois Duval and Stephane Prevot were able to re-start today thanks to the remarkable work of their mechanics who put their Xsara back into perfect shape. The objective of the Belgian pair is now to try and score Manufacturers' points for the team.
Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: "By the time it was my turn to tackle them, the stages had obviously been swept clear," said Sebastien, who was fifteenth on the road. "But they were also badly cut up with a lot of rocks thrown up by the first cars through. You really had to stay concentrated all the time. I pushed quite hard while trying to drive as cleanly as possible. This is the sort of event where you can end up losing time if you try too hard and you risk hitting trouble."
Francois Duval / Stephane Prevot: -No Quote available- Francois Duval wanted to move back up the leaderboard today, while at the same time endeavouring to keep clear of further trouble. The young Belgian accordingly chose a fast yet safe pace. Helped by the various incidents that marked the day, this allowed him to climb from 22nd to 12th position despite being awarded a far from favourable notional time for SS7 and in spite of a puncture on SS9 which forced him to fit his spare wheel after the stage. and finish the loop with caution. The question now is whether he will succeed in securing valuable extra Manufacturers' points? It is still too early to say since that will depend on the ability of certain of his rivals to re-start on Sunday morning.
Subaru's Petter Solberg consolidated his second place overall on Rally Italia Sardinia today. Taking a stage win, the Norwegian increased his lead over the third placed driver by more than 90 seconds and is on course for a strong points finish tomorrow. Contesting his first ever gravel event, Stephane Sarrazin traded stage times with drivers with far more experience, while his team-mate Chris Atkinson gained more valuable event knowledge at the wheel of his Impreza WRC2005. Although both new drivers were unable to complete the Leg, both will restart in the morning.
Petter Solberg / Phil Mills: Overall I think today has been a good day. We have had no major problems. I'm happy with my own performance, and when you look at how fast Sebastien is going, we have to be pleased with where we are. That's just how it is sometimes. I pushed as hard as I could, but clearly we have some work still to do. But still, this rally isn't over yet. With six more stages and no service tomorrow, a lot of things can happen. You can be sure I'll push as hard as I can right until the end.
Chris Atkinson/Glen Macneall: There's not really much to say after just thirty stage kilometres! We arrived at the start line of SS7 just as it was cancelled, and when the front suspension-arm broke after 30kms of SS8, our day was over. Up until that point I was very happy with the car, we were using the same set-up as yesterday and it was working well. So far on this rally I seem to be learning a lot about the mechanical elements of rallying - hopefully I'll get more driving experience tomorrow!
Stephane Sarrazin/Denis Giraudet : It's been very good today and overall I'm happy. I had a problem with the clutch on the last three stages and I lost my good position overall, but that's how it is. I've come here to learn and I'm definitely doing that. My times have been improving throughout the weekend, it's a good feeling in the car and I'm hoping we can restart and have another good day tomorrow.
Four Ford Focus RS World Rally Cars are on the leaderboard of the Rally Italia Sardinia tonight after another gruelling day's competition on the Mediterranean island. BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Roman Kresta and Jan Mo¾ný and private entrants Mark Higgins and Trevor Agnew both hold points scoring positions in seventh and sixth respectively, with one day remaining of this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. BP-Ford team-mates Toni Gardemeister and Jakke Honkanen spent today's second leg in a furious four-car battle for third in their Castrol-branded Focus RS. However, an oil pressure warning light flashed on near the finish of the last speed test and they stopped for fear of damaging the engine. The five minute penalty for not completing the test relegated the Finns to eighth, but still in the points. Antony Warmbold and Michael Orr complete the Focus quartet in 10th.
Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen: "The first stage went well," said Gardemeister. "It was so good I attacked even more in the next test, but I pushed too hard. I overshot a junction and had to reverse back onto the road. Because I was pushing too much, the car was sliding and I picked up a puncture. The road was so sandy that it was like driving on a beach."
Roman Kresta/Jan Mo¾ný: "I was fifth in the start order and there was much more loose gravel on the roads than I experienced yesterday. I opted for Michelin's hard compound tyres with full cuts to combat the gravel. It was a safe choice, and it paid off because there was so much soft gravel that the grip wasn't good. We did a lot of sliding and it felt like driving on ice. It's easy to make a mistake in those conditions."
Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen : "I lost the brakes just 1km after the start and had to scrub off speed in the corners. But near the finish I hit a stone and damaged the steering. I continued but 1km later I went off the road and lost the wheel. I also found the engine had lost its oil," said Hirvonen.
On the evening of leg two of the Rally d'Italia-Sardinia, the two Peugeot drivers took one more step towards the podium finishes they both hope to achieve tomorrow. Marcus Gronholm ends the day in fourth place, having started the leg in seventh just behind his team mate Markko Martin, who ends today fifth. Marcus made a massive fightback throughout the day, taking 50 seconds out of his compatriot Harri Rovanpera in the Mitsubishi in front of him. Both Marcus and Markko did an excellent job to look after their tyres and exploit their capabilities to the maximum under difficult conditions.
Marcus Gronholm / Timo Rautiainen: "It's been a good day, and I hope it will get even better tomorrow. I've had a good feeling with the car and the tyres, although these stages do not get any easier! The car has been entirely reliable and I have had enough confidence to push hard. In many ways this makes me regret my accident of yesterday: without that I think we could have been pushing for victory. But a podium finish is still a good result and that will be my aim."
Markko Martin/Michael Park: "I tried some new set-ups today which seemed to work well, by adjusting the shock absorbers and the ride height. I've learnt a lot about the car and they tyres today and the fight with Marcus is certainly looking interesting! The key to this rally has been staying out of trouble: so far we have managed to achieve that but we have to keep maximum concentration tomorrow."
The Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports WRC crew of Harri Rovanpera and Risto Pietilainen have enjoyed a great day of competition in the second leg of Rally Italia Sardinia, the fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The Lancer WRC05 crew hold third position and are set for a titanic battle over tomorrow's closing stages. Team-mates "Gigi" Galli and Guido D'Amore have experienced a problematic day, but set fastest time during one of the stages.
Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietilainen: These two days have been the best of the season", said Harri. "I'm very happy and fighting hard like this is very nice. Marcus and Markko are pushing hard but we see what happens tomorrow; it's another long day. Today has been great and the car is better; the small changes we made from the test seem to be helping us in rougher conditions. The last stage was really good for me; I was pushing like crazy and we had one big moment off line, but if you keep pushing, keep the car in shape and can be lucky over the rocks, then you get a good time.
Gigi Galli/Guido D'Amore: I am tired. quite tired today!" said Gigi at the end of the leg. "But, despite our problems, I decided I was really going for it in the short stage - that one was ours before we even started it! I drove like mad because after a day like today I needed that. Winning was very satisfying and we continue to make more kilometers, so there is always something positive
©koda Motorsport World Rally Team drivers Janne Tuohino and Armin Schwarz retired from day two of Rally Italia-Sardinia although, under the 2005 regulations, they remain classified in 12th and 16th places respectively this evening and Janne is still in the championship points positions. Over today's first three stages Armin maintained his overnight position and was comfortably inside the championship points when he was forced to stop 8kms into SS10. Janne was forced to run first on the slippery and sandy roads today and initially slipped down the order before climbing back up the leaderboard when the stages were used for the second time. However he left the road 2kms from the end of SS11 and decided it was better to stop rather than lose more time by trying to regain the road and complete the stage.
Janne Tuohino/Mikko Markkula: The car felt very nervous all through the final stage so maybe something was broken. We spun off near the start and lost a lot of time because the spectators wouldn't help. When it happened again near the end we decided that we would lose less time by stopping. You can't believe how slippery the roads are for the first car - it's like trying to drive on a sandy beach.
Armin Schwarz/Klaus Wicha: We had a problem with the gearshift on SS9 but it seemed OK at the start of the next stage although it seemed to be taking longer to make changes. After 6kms the clutch started to slip and one kilometre later it caught fire and we had to stop. I'm really disappointed that we had to retire but overall I'm happy with the progress we've made here. Hopefully we can continue tomorrow - I'm really up for it but we will have to decide after we get the car back to Olbia.