MARCUS TARGETS VICTORY IN GERMANY Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has promised to drive flat-out tomorrow in order to try and win the Rallye Deutschland. Marcus has ended day two in second place, a tantalising 5.5 seconds behind the ...
MARCUS TARGETS VICTORY IN GERMANY
Reigning World Champion Marcus Gronholm has promised to drive flat-out tomorrow in order to try and win the Rallye Deutschland. Marcus has ended day two in second place, a tantalising 5.5 seconds behind the leader, Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb.
World Championship leader Richard Burns also has a battle on his hands tomorrow. The Englishman is fifth overnight, but has only a 3.5 second gap to Colin McRae's Citroen in fourth. The third official Peugeot 206 WRC of Gilles Panizzi ends the day in a points-scoring eighth position.
Marcus was quick and consistent today, setting two fastest stage times despite constantly varying conditions. The Finn took the lead of the rally on the opening loop of stages, but backed off when conditions became more hazardous through the Baumholder military ranges. Marcus was unhappy with his tyre choice through stages 12 and 13, and chose to slow down in order to be sure of making the finish. Throughout the final loop of stages, which were again characterised by sporadic rain, Marcus controlled the gap to the leader in order to give himself the best possible chance of challenging for victory tomorrow.
"It's been a very tricky day," said Marcus. "Predicting the weather conditions and levels of grip was almost impossible. It was mostly a question of driving carefully and not making any mistakes, as it would have been so easy to have an accident today - especially in Baumholder. The car has been perfectly reliable and we're in a good position to attack tomorrow. I'm going to be trying my hardest."
Richard's 206 WRC gave him no problems today either, but he lost time with a couple of mistakes on SS11, Panzerplatte West. Heavy rain caused him to slide off on one corner, and he also went the wrong way at another corner. Apart from that, Richard kept his cool throughout a titanic battle with McRae and is looking forward to another day of action tomorrow.
"It's certainly not been easy!" said the Englishman at final service. "The changing weather has made driving very difficult, and it's also been extremely difficult to make the right choice of tyres. I don't think we were on the ideal tyres for a number of the stages, but we got through everything and the car has been reliable. We've got some good chances tomorrow so we have to keep on pushing."
Gilles Panizzi's day got better after a bad start, as he was again unhappy with the set-up of his brakes throughout the opening loop of stages. This problem was cured at service, but his tyre choices were not ideal for the varying conditions throughout the afternoon's stages. Yet by the end of the leg, Gilles had found a good pace and he is looking forward to tomorrow.
"We changed everything on the brakes at service and it was much better, although a lot of time had already been lost," explained Gilles. "Unfortunately, we were just caught out by the weather a lot on the other stages today. That's unlucky, but this is rallying. On the last stages we could set some good times, and I hope to continue that pace tomorrow."
The Bozian Racing-run 2003-spec Peugeot 206 WRC of Cedric Robert ended leg two in ninth place, after another consistent day of learning for the young Frenchman.
The final leg of the Rallye Deutschland gets underway at 0500 tomorrow, with the crews facing six more tricky stages through the German vineyards. The winner is expected on the finish ramp in Trier at 1550.