Spain Leg Two Story/Notes 98-04-21

FIA World Rally Championship 19 - 22 April 1998 34th Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava, Rallye de España Tuesday 21 April Frenchmen Didier Auriol and co-driver Denis Giraudet stormed through the second leg of the 34th...

FIA World Rally Championship 19 - 22 April 1998

34th Rallye Catalunya-Costa Brava, Rallye de España Tuesday 21 April Frenchmen Didier Auriol and co-driver Denis Giraudet stormed through the second leg of the 34th Rallye de España, Catalunya-Costa Brava to increase their lead at the overnight rest-halt of Lloret de Mar. The Toyota crew won 2 of today's 6 special stages and will restart tomorrow for the final leg of this fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, with the confortable margin of 41,6 seconds over Belgian team-mates Freddy Loix and Sven Smeets.

Third is another Toyota, the one driven by local idol Carlos Sainz who, after a difficult start, got the right set-up on his Corolla WRC and reeled in from eight place, 17,4 seconds behind Loix. Also reigning world champion, Finn Tommi Makinen, making the best possible use of the new suspension of his debuting Mitsubishi Lancer Evo5, has improved his position from ninth to fourth, only five seconds ahead of his team mate Richard Burns.

Yesterday's pace-setting Citroën Xsara Kit Car of Spaniard Jesus Puras, called it a day on stage 8, spilling oil from a hole in the sump, but the sister car of Frenchman Philippe Bugalski was able to match the leaders' pace and, winning a stage outright, placed sixth at the end of the leg.

Behind the unchallengeable Auriol the battle over the twisty, tyre wearing roads of the Tarragona province has been so hard-fought, that a mere 26 seconds divide second placed Loix from French Philippe Bugalski in sixth position.

With over 100 kilometres of timed stages to come tomorrow, the rally should see another fierce battle between these five drivers, before the competitors reach the finish podium in Lloret de Mar at 15h30. Mitsubishi

Reigning world champion Tommi Makinen has increased his pace trough the day, and tonight lies fourth, a mere 3 tenths of a second behind Carlos Sainz. "We had a good day and, especially on the last stage I pushed hard and the new car was fantastic," said the Finn.

"Tomorrow is going to be a great battle, with everybody so close together!"

Team-mate Richard Burns ended the day on a lower key: "The two last stages have been difficult for me," said the young Briton. "I lost concentration on central part of stage 11 and then I also felt very tired and suffering the heat." Subaru

The 555 Subaru World Rally Team had another frustrating day, struggling between grip and tyre wear and while Scot Colin McRae barely succeeded in maintaining his tenth place, Italian Piero Liatti lost a wheel hitting a milestone on stage 12 and was forced into retirement.

A premonitory McRae had declared at the end of second stage, before refusing any further comment: "I know perfectly how the day is going: wrong!" Ford

Belgian Bruno Thiry slipped from third overnight to eighth at the end of Leg Two, the Ford pilot beginning to feel jaded in the heat on his first event after recovering from a rib injury.

"Early this morning we had brake problems, but we fixed them soon," said Thiry. "Then we tried different compounds, to improve the grip. The problem is that on the longer tests the rubber is overheating and the car slips a lot."

Team-mate Juha Kankkunen had brakes problems too and tonight lies in twelfth position. Toyota

"I have been very happy with the car and the tyres today," said a beaming Didier Auriol. I'm looking forward to tomorrow because the stages are the same as the first day and I know the car will go well. Team-mate Freddy Loix quickly progressed from his overnight position of seventh into second place. "Last night I thought a lot about how I should be driving the car to its maximum, working with the settings some more," said the young Belgian, who was fastest on SS8 and SS13.

"I was much happier with my own approach today.

Local hero Carlos Sainz delighted the thousands of Spanish fans, who packed the stages to watch him leaping up from ninth to third at the end of the day. "Once again the car has worked well and I think we are in a good position to push harder again tomorrow," said the Spaniard. "It will be a big battle, as there are several cars very close together, nothing is certain at the moment."

Toyota Motorsport's President Ove Andersson, delighted with his team's performance, was of the same opinion: "All three drivers have driven superbly today and they are all in a good position for tomorrow. They all have an equal chance to go for victory." Other Teams

Frenchman Gilles Panizzi's Peugeot set the fastest time on stage 9, but could not maintain fourth overnight and is now seventh, although still leading the 2-Litre World Cup classification, in which Citroën is not participating.

Uruguayan Gustavo Trelles, 22nd overall, leads Group N. Portuguese Rui Madeira (Toyota), leads the FIA Teams' Cup for the Italian Grifone HF team, while his team-mate Marcus Gronholm has withdrawn with a broken suspension, after crashing in stage 9. TODAY STATISTICS Leg 2 covered 738.86 km, including 172.92 km on 6 special stages. Starters: 87 cars (46 Group A + 41 Group N), re-started the rally. Leading retirements (Spanish unless stated): Snijers (B), Puras, Liatti (I), Climent, Nikonenko (RUS) SS8 La Riba (32.72 km) 1 Loix (B), Toyota 20m40s06 = Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 20m40s06 3 Sainz (E), Toyota 20m42s02 Leaders after SS8 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 1h39m48s03 2 Panizzi (F), Peugeot 1h40m12s08 3 Thiry (B), Ford 1h40m16s04 SS9 Prades (13.77 km) 1 Panizzi (F), Peugeot 08m25s02 2 Delecour (F), Peugeot 08m25s04 3 Loix (B), Toyota 08m28s01 Leaders after SS9 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 1h48m16s05 2 Panizzi (F), Peugeot 1h48m38s00 3 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 1h48m45s07 SS10 El Priorat (20.67 km) 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 14m42s09 2 Loix (B), Toyota 14m45s05 3 Sainz (E), Toyota 14m51s01 Leaders after SS10 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 2h02m59s04 2 Loix (B), Toyota 2h03m35s01 3 Panizzi (F), Peugeot 2h03m38s03 SS11 Sta. Marina (27.47 km) 1 Bugalski (F), Citroën 17m09s07 2 Delecour (F), Peugeot 17m11s09 3 Liatti (I), Subaru 17m14s00 Leaders after SS11 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 2h20m14s06 2 Loix (B), Toyota 2h20m52s04 3 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 2h20m59s04 SS12 La Figuera (45.57 km) 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 29m05s03 2 Bugalski (F), Citroën 29m10s01 3 Sainz (E), Toyota 29m10s08 Leaders after SS12 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 2h49m19s09 2 Loix (B), Toyota 2h50m06s06 3 Burns (GB), Mitsubishi 2h50m16s07 SS13 La Riba (32.72 km) 1 Loix (B), Toyota 20m36s09 2 Mäkinen (FIN), Mitsubishi 20m38s01 3 Auriol (F), Toyota 20m42s00 Leaders after SS13 1 Auriol (F), Toyota 3h10m01s09 2 Loix (B), Toyota 3h10m43s05 3 Sainz (E), Toyota 3h11m00s09 TOMORROW Wednesday 22 April

The third and final leg starts from Lloret de Mar, Passeig Maritim at 06h30 and covers 367.40 km, including 106.26 km on 6 special stages. The first car is expected on the finish podium of Lloret de Mar, Passeig Maritim, at 15h30. Weather forecast Sunny and warm.

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Series WRC
Drivers Tommi Makinen , Colin McRae , Carlos Sainz , Freddy Loix , Richard Burns , Gilles Panizzi , Didier Auriol , Marcus Gronholm , Philippe Bugalski , Juha Kankkunen , Gustavo Trelles , Denis Giraudet , Piero Liatti , Sven Smeets , Rui Madeira
Teams Citroën World Rally Team