Weather: @The morning started overcast but warm, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 23C. The day stayed dry throughout. Summary At the end of the second Leg of competition on Rallye Deutschland, Stephane Sarrazin heads the Subaru charge,...
Weather: @The morning started overcast but warm, with temperatures ranging from 10C to 23C. The day stayed dry throughout.
At the end of the second Leg of competition on Rallye Deutschland, Stephane Sarrazin heads the Subaru charge, holding seventh place overnight with six more stages remaining tomorrow. On his first ever asphalt rally in the Subaru Impreza WRC2005, Sarrazin set three top-five stage times and became one of the few drivers to challenge the dominance of the lead Citroens by setting the second fastest time on SS7. A gear selection problem robbed Petter Solberg of his fourth place and dropped him to 12th overall, but after a spirited recovery he was back up to 9th at the end of the day. Chris Atkinson's asphalt rally debut continued to run without a hitch and with his confidence increasing the Australian ended the day in 13th position.
SS7 0836 Bosenberg 1 (22.06km)
The stages of Leg two were based on the public roads and military proving grounds around the central service area by the lake at Bostalsee. Lying in 15th overall after Leg one, Chris Atkinson took to the road first, with Stephane Sarrazin second. On a cleaner road than he had faced on the previous day, the Frenchman set the second fastest time behind Citroen's Sebastien Loeb, who was quickest despite a small spin close to the start. Loeb's team mate Francois Duval had minor problems, with a stall at the start and overheating brakes that were ablaze as he crossed the finish line. Subaru's Petter Solberg set the seventh fastest time, equalling Toni Gardemeister's 12:48.8 min. The time kept him in fourth, 5.9sec ahead of Gardemeister. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 12:29.8
SS8 0944hrs Panzerplatte 1 (29.57km)
Solberg experienced problems before the start of the stage when the hydraulic gear shift mechanism of his car developed a fault. Solberg and Mills did their best to fix the problem on the road section, but despite their best efforts, the car would only select one gear ratio. Solberg checked in nine minutes late to the pre-stage time control, incurring a 90sec penalty before negotiating the longest stage of the rally with only third gear. His time of 19:25.8 min was 2:08.8 min slower than Loeb's and dropped him from fourth to 12th overall. Subaru team mate Sarrazin also lost time in the stage on a tyre compound he felt was too hard for the slippery conditions. Ford's Gardemeister lost around 21 minutes with an electrical problem (a relay failure on the car's main master switch) and dropped from fifth to 35th overall, while his team mate Roman Kresta also had a bad stage after he drove off the road and down a bank to drop one place to seventh. Local favourite Armin Schwarz reported a clutch problem with his Skoda, while Loeb set another fastest stage time, his seventh of the rally. Despite limited braking power after they overheated on SS7, Francois Duval was second quickest. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 17:17.0
SS9 1219hrs Erzweiler 1 (18.22km)
Subaru technicians fixed Solberg's gear shift problem during the 30-minute service between SS8 and SS9. Armin Schwarz, however, retired before SS9 when technicians found that the engine as well as the clutch had been damaged on the previous stage. Running second on a very dusty road, Sarrazin set the tenth fastest time. Loeb was once again quickest followed by Peugeot's Marcus Gronholm, while the Finn's team mate, Markko Martin, was fourth to pull further ahead of fifth placed Mitsubishi pilot Gigi Galli. Chris Atkinson spun in a slippery braking area, but moved up to 13th overall. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 11:02.2
SS10 1257hrs Panzerplatte 2 (29.57km)
The first of the day's stages to be re-run, the Panzerplatte military test on the Baumholder tank proving ground is the longest of the rally with 81 junctions and about 40 surface changes including asphalt, concrete, cobbles, gravel and just about everything in between. Most of the junctions and corners are lined with big rocks or huge concrete blocks known as Hinkelsteins to catch out the unwary. Duval was quickest, six seconds faster than Loeb, with Ford's Dani Sola third to move up the overall leaderboard to fifth. Sarrazin recorded the eighth fastest time and went up to eighth overall and into the points again, with a 2.4sec advantage over Finn Harri Rovanpera. Subaru's third driver, Chris Atkinson, lost some time with a tyre mousse vibration. Solberg's Impreza WRC2005 completed the stage, and despite a quick spin at the end, the Norwegian moved up to tenth overall after his earlier mechanical problems. Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Citroen) 17:10.0
SS11 1532hrs Erzweiler 2 (18.22km)
The first stage to be run after a second 30-minute service at Bostalsee featured lots of junctions and surface changes, including one smooth section on the main road and a very fast three kilometre sprint to the finish. Loeb took another stage win ahead of Duval and Gardemeister, who started to move back up the leaderboard after his earlier problems. Petter Solberg claimed the sixth fastest time to climb into ninth overall ahead of Mitsubishi's gravel specialist Rovanpera. Finn Marcus Gronholm was fourth, with a comfortable time cushion between himself and team mate Martin. Ford privateer Sola again showed strongly, finishing just 0.7sec ahead of Sarrazin. After a stall Kresta crossed the finish line in a time four seconds slower than Sarrazin's. Austrian Manfred Stohl hit a rock 8km from the start, damaging a driveshaft and retiring from the rally. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 10:50.5
SS12 1635hrs Bosenberg 2 (22.06km)
Belgian Duval took his third stage win on the re-run of Bosenberg. Sarrazin drove his Subaru Impreza WRC2005 to fourth on the stage and lay only 18sec behind Sola after the Spaniard limped to the end with his Focus experiencing hydraulic problems. Solberg was fifth quickest, 1.5sec quicker that Peugeot's Gronholm. Czech driver Kresta snatched fifth overall from Mitsubishi driver Galli, who spun early in the stage. Skoda's only remaining driver, Jan Kopecky, was 15.7sec slower than Duval but climbed to 11th ahead of Xavier Pons. Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Citroen) 12:28.7
SS13 1723hrs St Wendel Spectator Stage (6.24km)
The Superspecial took place in St Wendel, a medieval town 73km from Trier. The small Saarland centre is famed for its large Romanesque basilica and, in addition to the WRC, also hosts a round of the Mountain Bike World Cup. The 2km stage loop included a section of motorway and some roads in an industrial estate, with cars, unusually for a Superspecial, tackling the stage one by one to complete two and a half circuits. In front of more than 6,000 spectators, Loeb took his Rallye Deutschland stage win total into double figures, scoring his tenth win of the event ahead of Gronholm. Sarrazin moved to seventh ahead of privateer Sola, who had no time between stages to fix the hydraulic problems he developed earlier. Solberg capitalised on the Spaniard's delays to move to within three seconds of eighth, and the final points scoring position. Fastest Stage Time: Loeb (Citroen) 3:24.4
Subaru World Rally Team Principal, David Lapworth
At the beginning of the day we were confident Petter would maintain a top four position. Unfortunately the hydraulic problem on the gearbox cost a lot of time and he quickly had to refocus on battling his way up to a points scoring position. If Petter has a clean run tomorrow and continues to make progress and set the good times of this afternoon, he can take some points from this event. After the disappointment of yesterday the main target for Stephane was to get back on the pace and work on the setup of the car. He set some very good times and had a trouble-free day and is now ahead of Sola and in a good points-scoring position. Chris has had a good day. He's got faster almost stage-by-stage and remains well on target for achieving the goals we agreed for his first asphalt rally.
On the whole, today was average! We had the gear selection problem this morning that lost us a lot of time and then this afternoon found some small improvements to the setup that will hopefully help for tomorrow. The feeling in the car is now good, and from here we're going to try and get some points - that's the main thing.
Today was a good day and we set some good stage times. I didn't have a lot of confidence this morning on the Panzerplatte stages as they are so difficult to drive and inside I was scared to make a mistake, as there is more to lose than win. I'm happy with my progress so far and pleased with my second place on the first stage of the day. Even when I went straight at a corner on the repeat of that stage I still managed a good time! The set up is good and I am pleased to be setting times close with the Peugeots. We are going to continue at the same pace tomorrow and make sure we stay on the road.
Tonight I am pretty happy. Today is a definite improvement over yesterday and my confidence too is higher than yesterday. I had struggled a bit as this is just my second day ever on tarmac and the car is so responsive when compared with driving on gravel. I now have a better understanding of the car and have more ability to predict what to do. It's good at times to be just half a second from Stephane's pace, which is encouraging. Tonight I'm going to look at the data and see where we can pick up some pace tomorrow without taking too many risks.
News From Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Today has been a tricky challenge, but we have seen some excellent performances, from Stephane in particular. Petter has not been so lucky, but we are constantly accumulating useful data for the asphalt rallies in the future."
Rally Deutschland saw the debut of the asphalt specification Impreza WRC2005, the model first introduced in gravel trim on Rally Mexico. On the first of three asphalt rallies in the 2005 season, the team's Chief Rally Engineer, Pierre Genon explained the key changes over last year's WRC2004:
"Compared to its predecessor, the WRC2005 has all-new suspension components, including dampers, cast aluminium uprights and bigger four-stud hubs to suit the 18inch BBS wheels. The combined effect of these parts is improved rigidity that leads to more precise handling.
"We've also made some changes to the car's suspension geometry. Many of these were dictated by the 2005 regulations that allowed us to build a car with a wider track - an increase of 30mm in our case - but we've also spent a lot of time looking at how we can further refine the car's geometry to suit tarmac events. A new design of strut mount allows us to alter the set-up more easily during a rally.
"As usual, the brakes fitted to the asphalt car are larger than those on the gravel version. For the WRC2005 we have worked closely with our brake supplier, AP Racing, to arrive at the best solution. At the front end the car is fitted with 365mm diameter ventilated discs with eight-piston calipers and four pads per wheel, while the rear is equipped with 304mm discs and four-piston calipers.
"The brakes of the WRC2005 are cooled by an intelligent water spray system that directs a jet of fluid at each caliper when it reaches a pre-determined temperature. Last year's car featured a different approach, a recirculating system that pumped water through galleries within the caliper unit itself. The new approach is far more efficient and saves weight as it enables us to carry less water on board."