Four-times World Champion Tommi Makinen put in another sparkling performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2003 and set consistently fast times to increase his lead over third-placed Richard Burns to 22.1 seconds. He lies 38.8 seconds...
Four-times World Champion Tommi Makinen put in another sparkling performance at the wheel of his Subaru Impreza WRC2003 and set consistently fast times to increase his lead over third-placed Richard Burns to 22.1 seconds. He lies 38.8 seconds behind overnight leader Gronholm. His 555 Subaru team-mate Petter Solberg is sixth, with the potential for a good points finish tomorrow.
SS7 0818hrs Granberget 2 (43.69km)
Fastest time: Rovanpera (Peugeot) 21:28
Subaru driver Tommi Makinen went flat-out from the start and stormed through the long fifth and sixth gear test to set the second fastest time, finishing 21.6 seconds quicker than his first run through Granberget when it was run as SS3. He maintained second position overall. Harri Rovanpera took the quickest time, finishing 2.6 seconds ahead of Makinen. His Peugeot team-mate, Richard Burns, finished fourth and, at the finish, just 0.5 seconds separated the Peugeot pair lying fourth and third overall. Markko Martin was sixth fastest in his Focus, while Petter Solberg was seventh through the stage and moved up to seventh place overall. Hyundai privateer, Jussi Valimaki, retired 30km from the start with transmission failure. Gronholm also suffered when he hit a rock 2km in, knocked some studs from his front right tyre and damaged his steering.
SS8 1124hrs Fredriksberg (18.14km)
Fastest time: Sainz (Citroen) 10:47.5
Problems for the Peugeots on SS8 -- the classic Fredriksberg test. In an event similar to yesterday's run through Brunnberg, the action on SS8 was stopped following an accident. Peugeot privateer Juuso Pykalisto rolled his 206, which was left stranded in the road. The stricken car was then hit by the works Peugeot of Harri Rovanpera. All drivers escaped serious injury, but both cars were too badly damaged to continue. With two cars now blocking the road organisers stopped the stage. Of the nine competitors that completed it, Carlos Sainz posted the fastest time, followed by Toni Gardemeister and Colin McRae. Martin, Solberg and Loix took the next three positions, separated by just 1.2 seconds. Looking to the crews that were unable to complete the stage, stewards awarded Sainz's time to Gronholm, Makinen and Burns, while all other competitors received Schwarz's time.
SS9 1207hrs Lejen (25.04km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 11:56.2
Seemingly unaffected by the incident on SS9, Marcus Gronholm stormed through the 2km Lejen section to clinch his first stage win of the day, and his fourth of the event. In a Finnish one-two, the World Champion was closely matched by Makinen, who attacked the icy stage on his Pirelli ice-tread tyres, to finish second fastest, and extending his lead over Richard Burns to 14.1 seconds. Frenchman Sebastian Loeb was back on the pace and finished third fastest, followed by ex-team mates Martin and McRae who tied fourth. Ford privateer Janne Tuohino was lucky to escape a close encounter with some of the local wildlife. The Finn had to brake heavily to avoid two moose which had walked onto the road ahead of his speeding car. After the stage crews made their way back to the Hagfors service park.
SS10 1437hrs Vargåsen (32.43km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 18:08.7
This was the stage that had it all. A narrow twisty section near the start, a huge jump over the famous 'Colin's Crest' and a high-speed section near the end, where drivers hit maximum speed on the ice covered road. Gronholm and Makinen were in a class of their own and sped through the 32.43km section in first and second place respectively, pulling further ahead of the rest of the field. At the end of the test Gronholm's lead was up to 35.2 seconds and Makinen's, 18 seconds. Richard Burns was fourth fastest and remained third overall, despite dropping a further 3.9 seconds to Tommi. Colin McRae was fifth - enough to move him to that position overall. Petter was eighth.
SS11 1535hrs Torntorp (19.21km)
Fastest time: Gronholm (Peugeot) 10:12.7
Another fastest time for Gronholm on the penultimate stage of the day. The twisty test brought no changes to the overall top eight positions, but Loeb's consistency began to pay off and he finished second fastest to move up to tenth place overall. His charge relegated privateer Tuohino to eleventh. Makinen and McRae were joint third fastest, followed by Martin in fifth. Competing in front of hundreds of his Norwegian supporters, Subaru's Petter Solberg continued his steady run and finished eighth, to remain sixth overall.
SS12 1640hrs Hagfors Sprint 2 (1.86km)
Fastest time: Makinen (Subaru) 1:56.8
After SS11, crews returned to Hagfors for a second and final run around the short sports stadium circuit. Despite ice crews reporting that there were more patches of gravel on the 1.86km sprint than yesterday, there were no upsets and the overall leaderboard remained unchanged. The top six cars all completed the stage within one second of the winner, Subaru's Tommi Makinen. The Finn's win (his first since Rally Australia) rounded off an excellent day. Richard Burns was the closet challenger, with Markko Martin third.
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru World Rally Team Principal: "I'm happy with what we've achieved in Sweden today. Both cars have run perfectly, and with Tommi so close to the lead, we're in a very strong position ahead of tomorrow's final leg. With five stages remaining, we'll carry on with the same strategy - that's to keep Marcus under pressure and see what happens. Petter has had a better day, and has found a pace where he feels more comfortable. He's got the opportunity to make up more places and is well positioned to capitalise on any mistakes up ahead."
Tommi Makinen: "So far it's been good, a nice weekend for me, and it's looking quite exciting for tomorrow as well. There's still a long way to go, and Marcus is going at an incredible speed, but of course I'll try to catch him, I will try to be flat-out!"
Petter Solberg: "Things have worked well, but this morning we thought about snow tyres and decided against them. Certainly, on the last stage of the day, I think they would have helped me and my driving style. The last couple of stages were frustrating, I have tried and tried but somehow the times just aren't good enough. But, there's still a lot to gain here and you can be sure that I'll push like hell tomorrow. "
News from Pirelli
Fiore Brivio, Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager: "Today's conditions were different to Leg one and temperatures of around 0 degrees led to softer ice in the stages. Tommi and Petter continued to favour the Pirelli J1 ice tyre, with an additional cut to aid snow dispersal. We were pleased with our stud retention, particularly in Granberget 2 (SS7) where second usage revealed sections of gravel."
Technical Talk - Shoveling Snow in Sweden
* Swedish Rally regulations state that each car competing in the event must carry two snow shovels in the boot
* It's almost ironic that while each new Subaru Impreza WRC2003 costs around £500,000 and is packed with the latest high technology components (including the computer controlled semi-automatic transmission which costs £60,000, the engine which costs £75,000 and each corner (damper, wishbone and brake assembly) which cost £23,000), success in Sweden can hinge on two £25 snow shovels
* The event's Media Relations Officer, Haken Toner explained, "With deep snow banks on either side of the road, the shovels are carried so that in the event of a mistake, drivers can dig their cars out of the soft snow and get back underway. They also serve as a useful reminder to the drivers of the physical effort required to correct any mistakes on this rally."
* The Fiskars shovels used by the teams are off the shelf items purchased in Sweden. They feature a lightweight aluminum blade, with a sturdy lightweight plastic handle. Each shovel weighs in at just 450 grams
Starts at 0600hrs, when competitors will leave Karlstadt and travel for the last time to Hagfors for the first service of the day. A further 120.75 competitive kilometres comprising five stages lie ahead, with the first test starting at 0835hrs. The event will conclude with a run through the 39.85km Hagfors stage, and the winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp in Karlstad at 1705 hours.