Following the retirement of more than a third of the field yesterday, just 29 of the original 48 starters left the Nairobi Parc Ferme today to begin the second leg of the 2002 Safari Rally. Today's route was made up of 410 competitive kilometres...
Following the retirement of more than a third of the field yesterday, just 29 of the original 48 starters left the Nairobi Parc Ferme today to begin the second leg of the 2002 Safari Rally.
Today's route was made up of 410 competitive kilometres and five stages based around the central service point at Suswa. Leg two was run entirely on repeated stages, which meant a deteriorating road surface with even more ruts, rocks and changing terrain.
There was action early on when overnight leader Tommi Mäkinen, who had led the event from the first stage, lost nearly eight minutes with a suspension problem and dropped to sixth overall. Colin McRae inherited the lead and his teammate Carlos Sainz moved to second. Mäkinen later retired on CS9 and was swiftly followed by Carlos Sainz with an engine problem. Kenneth Eriksson and current World Champ Richard Burns also retired - both within sight of the service area.
Ahead of the final three stages tomorrow, Colin McRae holds the lead, 2m26s ahead of the Peugeot of Harri Rovanpera, with Citroen's Thomas Radstrom in third.
In the Group N Category, Mitsubishi driver Marcos Ligato leads, with the Subaru Impreza of Toshihiro Arai right behind in second, and Karamjit Singh in a Proton third.
CS5 0703hrs Kedong - Ngema (73.63km)
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 37:30.6
The first test was another pass through the punishing Kedong - Ngema section, run on leg one as CS1, but driven today in the opposite direction. On yesterday's first attempt, the gruelling terrain wreaked havoc on the cars and caused the retirements of Marcus Gronholm and Freddy Loix. This time there were serious consequences for rally leader Tommi Mäkinen of the 555 Subaru team who lost more than eight minutes with rear suspension-damper problems. Mäkinen completed the stage and returned to service, but the problem dropped him from first to sixth overall, 15.6s behind Markko Martin. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb won the stage - to collect the French manufacturer's first Safari stage win - although after problems yesterday and 40s of penalty time he remained ninth overall. Carlos Sainz was second-fastest, moved to second overall and closed the gap on his Ford colleague and new rally leader Colin McRae to 2m03s. Leading privateer and Subaru WRC driver Frederic Dor retired three kms from the start with a damaged wishbone.
CS6 0852hrs Nailongilok - Il Damat (74.57km)
Fastest Time: Stage Cancelled
Low cloud cover prevented the spotter helicopters from flying and organisers cancelled the stage for safety reasons.
CS7 1059hrs Kedong - Ntulele (106.37km)
Fastest Time: Burns (Peugeot) 51:11.1
The reverse-repeat of CS4 resulted in a British 1, 2, when Richard Burns took his first Safari stage win for Peugeot with Colin McRae behind him in second. Harri Rovanpera was third in another 206WRC and capitalised on a slow time from Carlos Sainz who stopped to change a puncture. Rovanpera moved ahead of the Spaniard and into second overall 3m28s behind rally leader McRae. Sainz now lay 40 seconds behind Rovanpera in third, with Skoda's Kenneth Eriksson another 2m49s back in fourth. The stage brought continued frustrations for Mäkinen. He had difficulty running in the dust trail of the car in front, the punctured Ford of Carlos Sainz, and in the limited visibility collected a slow-puncture himself after hitting a sharp rock. 25kms from the finish Mäkinen and co-driver Kaj Lindstrom stopped to change the wheel. Altogether the incidents cost the pair almost three minutes. But there was more drama to come before the next service. Kenneth Eriksson, Skoda's speedy Swede, left the stage for the 65kms journey to Suswa with a gearbox that had been damaged on the stage. It's condition deteriorated during the drive and finally failed just 500 metres from the service entrance. Eriksson and co-driver Tina Thorner weren't able to push the car over the sandy ground and they retired.
CS8 1404hrs Kerrerie - Serabei (81.67km)
Fastest Time: Panizzi (Peugeot) 37:22.4
Peugeot driver Gilles Panizzi set the fastest time, with his French compatriot Sebastien Loeb second and Harri Rovanpera third. But the story of the stage concerned the two drivers who didn't make it out. The 81km Kerrerie - Serabei section proved a real giant killer. First to go was Tommi Mäkinen, the Finn was 30kms from the start line when a front suspension wishbone broke on his Subaru and he could go no further. Carlos Sainz retired shortly after, his Focus lost oil pressure due to an oil pump drive-belt failure and stopped 35kms before the finish line. Richard Burns was in the wars too, his Peugeot suffered front suspension damage after a crossmember bolt sheared 500metres before the finish line. The wheel hung in the arch but he was able to continue and finish the stage. With Sainz gone, Rovanpera moved into second place and Markko Martin inherited third. But the action didn't stop there. In a scene reminiscent of Kenneth Eriksson's retirement so close to his team base after the last stage, Richard Burns got his Peugeot stuck in the thick dust and dry soil at the entrance to the Suswa service area. Despite frantic efforts to dig out the stricken machine he ran out of time, retired, and made the rest of the journey on foot.
CS9 1616hrs Kedong - Ntulele (73.63km)
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 36:36.6
Comparatively few incidents on the last stage of the day. Sebastien Loeb was quickest, with Gilles Panizzi second and Harri Rovanpera third. Colin McRae was fourth, and kept the lead, although Rovanpera managed to chip 30 seconds off the Scot's advantage and bring it down to 2m26s. Once again the drama unfolded once the stage had finished. Markko Martin's Ford refused to start at the end of the 45-minute end-of-leg service, and the Estonian collected 11m30s of penalty time for the 24 minutes the team took to get it going again. He dropped from third to fifth overall.