PEUGEOTS ON THE CHARGE IN GERMANY Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Richard Burns and Marcus Grönholm have charged forward on the second day of the Rallye Deutschland, the 10th round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship. Burns and co-driver...
PEUGEOTS ON THE CHARGE IN GERMANY
Peugeot 206 WRC drivers Richard Burns and Marcus Grönholm have charged forward on the second day of the Rallye Deutschland, the 10th round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship.
Burns and co-driver Robert Reid have maintained their second position and closed the gap on leader Sebastien Loeb, while Grönholm and navigator Timo Rautiainen blasted their way up the leaderboard after their problems yesterday to end the day in third. With Loeb not registered for manufacturers points, Peugeot's aces are perfectly placed to score a maximum haul for the French manufacturer.
In contrast to the narrow vineyard lanes that made up yesterday's mileage, today's route took crews into the notorious Baumholder military ranges. As expected, the blend of high-speed, broken concrete roads (normally used by tanks) and unpredictable weather caused havoc this morning.
Even though the heavens opened just before the start this morning, Grönholm was unfazed by the conditions. He opted for full-wet tyres for the opening pair of stages and set a pair of incredible fastest times to move clear of both Colin McRae and Philippe Bugalski, and into third overall. Marcus then consolidated that position in the afternoon tests, which were held in rapidly drying conditions. He entered this evening's closing superspecial near the host town of Trier in third, l5 seconds behind Burns.
Marcus said: "It has been quite a good day and of course, we've made up quite a few places so it's looking better for the championship points - for us, and for Peugeot. I made one mistake at a corner and stalled the engine this afternoon, but apart from that it's been going fine. It just looks like the time difference to the leaders is going to be a bit too much, though, which is frustrating."
Burns was almost as quick as Grönholm out of the blocks this morning, although the Englishman concentrated on maintaining a comfortable pace. Even that was enough for him to close in on leader Loeb as the day progressed, and the reigning world champion ended the day's proper mileage just 10 seconds off the top spot.
Richard said: "It hasn't been a bad day for us. We haven't really been pushing at total maximum and I could see plenty of places this morning where I'm sure Marcus would have made up time on us. I think perhaps that prior experience would have been of more benefit today than it was yesterday, because you have to be able to cope with the differing conditions and grip levels and any bit of knowledge would help with that. This afternoon, we went for a cut intermediate tyre and I think it would have been better with a harder compound or even a cut slick. But a lot of people probably had the wrong tyres for that one. We're still in the hunt and a lot can happen tomorrow."
The third 206 WRC driver, Harri Rovanperä, lost time this morning when his car's hydraulic pressure began to drop. The Finn missed out on the chance of a top 10 position as a result, but he has continued to gain valuable experience of both the German stages and the full-specification works 206 on sealed surfaces.
Harri said: "The hydraulic problem was quite frustrating, because we were involved in quite a close battle and it made the car hard to drive, so I lost too much time. I'm still learning on every stage but when you get into a fight you always want to win!"
Tomorrow's final leg takes crews back towards narrower and more twisty stages again. Drivers and teams should be more comfortable with the set-ups and techniques needed for the narrow roads, but if the weather remains changeable then correctly predicting tyre choice and suspension settings could yet make the difference between delight and despair when the final results are declared tomorrow afternoon.