WRC

Solberg tops the charts for Cyprus day two

Solberg tops the charts for Cyprus day two

Day two: A day of survival, those who have survived will compete for the bragging rights on Sunday's final leg of the Cyprus Rally. Subaru's Petter Solberg and Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera go into tomorrow with the slightest of margins. Solberg...

Day two: A day of survival, those who have survived will compete for the bragging rights on Sunday's final leg of the Cyprus Rally. Subaru's Petter Solberg and Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera go into tomorrow with the slightest of margins.

Solberg won the final stage 12 of the day and holds a 25.3 second margin over Rovanpera, who was second. The 11th stage was won by Rovanpera with Solberg second.

Petter Solberg.
Photo by WRC McKlein.
"It was good to take some seconds on the last stage from Harri (Rovanpera)," said today's leader Solberg. "But I know that it only takes a puncture or a spin tomorrow to lose the lead. We've had no problems at all today and the car's been 100 per cent reliable. I had a good speed, I'd like to gain some more seconds and we want to win."

The battle between the two kept the leaderboard active, Solberg won stage six and Rovanpera answered back with the ninth stage win. Solberg's teammate Tommi Makinen was hot today as he picked up wins in stage five, seven, eight and ten.

"It's been one of the toughest days of rallying that I can remember," commented Rovanpera at the end of the day. "On the very rough last stage I slowed down a little bit in order to keep the car in the best possible condition for tomorrow. Anything can still happen but I'm going to be trying my hardest."

Citroen's three drivers stayed in the hunt for the win in the seventh round of the World Rally Championship. Sebastien Loeb, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz held ground to finish third, fourth and fifth respectively for the day.

Loeb commented, "We still have some work to do but I feel a bit frustrated as I have to follow the tracks of the previous cars to be competitive. I simply hope I could maintain this good result until the podium."

Sainz has the most ground to catch up to the leaders; however, his goal is to finish in the points to possibly move from second to first in the point standings.

"Thanks to the Xsara's reliability," Sainz stated. "We are now standing in an ideal position to score valuable points for both Championships. We just have to make no mistakes and we'll do our best."

Mikko Hirvonen is the lone Ford driver still in the competition and is currently in sixth overall. Hyundai's Armin Schwarz sits seventh.

Markko Martin.
Photo by Ford Motor Company.
The day was filled with retirements, including the world champion Marcus Gronholm and the recent Acropolis Rally winner Markko Martin.

Gronholm left the scene on the sixth stage after damaging his Peugeot on stage five. Martin and teammate Francois Duval retired their Ford Focus' due to engine failures.

Ford's Malcolm Wilson stated, "It's disappointing for the team as we really felt that we were in good position today."

Hyundai's Freddy Loiz had engine problems as well and left the rally before the end of the sixth stage. Adding to Peugeot's woes, was the retirement of Richard Burns at the end of the 10th stage, prior to the service area.

The current points leader, Burns was sitting sixth on the leaderboard. "We'd noticed the temperatures rising during the ninth stage, and we had to drive through SS10 in road mode in order not to put too much strain on the engine. Eventually the engine went on to three cylinders, then two, then just one before finally stopping."

Skoda had their own share of problems, as both Toni Gardemeister and Didier Auriol retired on stage nine and ten, respectively. Gardemeister hit a tree stump and Auriol developed an electrical problem.

Subaru's Makinen ended the rally after stage ten. The Finn was forced to withdraw due to a penalty when he exceeded the time limit between stages six and seven. "Unfortunately, we lost too much time and had to withdraw from the event. We've seen that the car's performance has been very good and the improvements that we've made to the car have had a big impact."

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Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team