Marcus Aims For Strong Swedish Finish Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has ended leg two of the Swedish Rally in second place, just 40 seconds behind the leader. His team mate Freddy Loix was forced to retire from a points-scoring position...
Marcus Aims For Strong Swedish Finish
Peugeot driver Marcus Gronholm has ended leg two of the Swedish Rally in second place, just 40 seconds behind the leader. His team mate Freddy Loix was forced to retire from a points-scoring position with engine problems on the penultimate stage.
Marcus charged into the lead of the Swedish Rally at the start yesterday, but later dropped a minute with power steering problems. He began this morning in sixth, but a string of consecutive fastest times soon promoted him to third overall. He moved up to second on SS11, and is now in a strong position to take advantage of any opportunities that come his way.
In contrast to the relatively mild conditions yesterday, today saw typically cold Swedish Rally weather. A heavy overnight snowfall meant that the stages were free of slush and gravel, allowing the spiked snow tyres to work to maximum effect. An action-packed and dramatic day saw the crews cover eight special stages, with many top drivers hitting problems.
Marcus's Peugeot 307 WRC was a paragon of reliability today, enabling him return to parc ferme in Karlstad in a solid second place. The Finn enjoyed today's snowy stages, despite their slippery nature forcing him to spend more time sideways than he would have liked. Marcus had a big spin on the penultimate stage that cost him 14 seconds and also damaged the front of the car. This meant that he had to complete the final superspecial stage with no lights.
"The spin was just a stupid mistake, but it caused us a bit of a problem," he said. "It was not so easy to drive without lights! We're still in the race though, and we're going to be pushing hard again tomorrow, like we have been all day today. I think the gap to the front is too big to catch, but you never know in rallying. I'm certainly not giving up!"
Freddy lost time after going off the road during this morning's tricky conditions, and he was also affected by an engine misfire under braking. The Belgian persevered as best as he could, but had to retire when his engine stopped on the penultimate stage.
Two 2003 customer specification Peugeot 206 WRCs run by Bozian Racing also end the day in points-scoring positions. Henning Solberg is sixth and Daniel Carlsson is seventh, despite some rear shock absorber problems in the morning..
Tomorrow's final leg of the Swedish Rally sees the crews complete six decisive stages, totalling 96.6 competitive kilometres. With more snow and cold weather forecast overnight, it should be a classic end to a classic Swedish Rally.