WRC

Tour de Corse: Leg two summary

Championship leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was fastest on the first stage of each loop and leads tonight by 39.7sec. The Frenchman's only discomfort came this morning when he opted for tyres that were too soft. Behind Gronholm, Dani Sordo ...

Championship leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) was fastest on the first stage of each loop and leads tonight by 39.7sec. The Frenchman's only discomfort came this morning when he opted for tyres that were too soft. Behind Gronholm, Dani Sordo (Citroen) claimed two fastest times, although the young Spaniard suffered brake troubles at the end of the first stage. Alex Bengue (Peugeot) dropped from third to fifth, the Frenchman suffering handling difficulties this morning and then spinning on the final stage. Brake problems hindered Xavi Pons (Citroen) this morning but he lies within striking distance of Bengue, just 8.0sec behind. Nicolas Vouilloz (Peugeot) crashed off the leaderboard on the opening stage as did Andreas Aigner (Skoda). Francois Duval (Skoda) had to tackle most of the morning loop with no brakes after a calliper broke and the Belgian retired on the final test when he crashed.

Kronos Total Citroen

It was an excellent second leg for Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who stretched their lead of the rally to nearly 40 seconds. Equally good were Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who made up two places and stand on the provisional podium heading into the final day. And finally, it was a particularly good day for the Citroen Xsara WRC, which was first and second on three out of four special stages. Thanks also to Xevi Pons/Carlos del Barrio, there are still three Xsaras in the top six places.

Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: "I went quickly on the first stage of the day, and then I adapted my rhythm to match that of Marcus. I think he has calmed things down a bit. I was a bit more comfortable too, as is always the case when you have a bit of a lead. And the Xsara is truly a fantastic car when the going is really narrow and twisty. "

Xavier Pons/Carlos Del Barrio: "Alex Bengue is only eight seconds in front so it may be possible to make up another place. In the meantime I'm not going to tempt fate. After my mishap in Spain, I'm determined to be at the finish tomorrow in order to collect the maximum number of manufacturer points possible for the team."

OMV-Peugeot Norway

The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team finished leg two of the "Rallye de France - Tour de Corse" in good seventh intermediate place. Thus the OMV duo Stohl/Minor did reach their professed goal for this day. Together with Bozian Racing they keep doggedly working on the set-up of the Peugeot 307 WRC which is mirrored by improving special stage times. OMV driver Manfred Stohl wants to keep his position right up to the finish, which would win him WRC-points.

Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor: : "It was really great fun today. During the last two days we managed to improve from being behind 1,2 seconds per kilometre to only 0,8 seconds - which proves that we are going in the right direction and encourages us to keep on working hard."

BP-Ford

BP-Ford World Rally Team continues to hold second and fourth places after today's second leg of the Rallye de France Tour de Corse. Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen maintained second in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car after a troublefree day in the demanding mountains on the sun-kissed Mediterranean island. Team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen climbed to third this morning but were edged out of a podium place on the final stage after a thrilling battle.

Marcus Gronholm/Timo Rautiainen: "Loeb has been exceptionally quick and I've not been happy with my pace. My feeling with the car wasn't 100 per cent this morning. I didn't push hard enough but the stages were quite difficult. They were covered in gravel and were slippery and twisty. The handling on the first stage didn't feel as sharp. As the damper settings were the only thing that was different to yesterday, I changed them back again.

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "Everything felt better today and I made no mistakes but Dani was just that little bit faster than me. I enjoy a good battle, that's how rallying should be, and that's exactly what Dani and I have had. I couldn't go any faster but I will try to catch him tomorrow - it's not over yet. There was nothing I could do against him on the narrower sections but on the wider roads I was able to take time back. Asphalt isn't my best surface and I think I still need to improve my driving on it."

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford

Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Matthew Wilson is taking his rookie season in the FIA World Rally Championship as a learning year, and day two of Rallye de France - Tour de Corse provided a rather short and to the point lesson as the 19 year-old drove off the road early in the day's first stage, lodging his Ford Focus RS WRC 05 on its side.

Matthew Wilson/Michael Orr: "The first recovery truck got us on to our wheels, but we needed a crane to get us back up to the road. There's not too much damage to the car, it's just cosmetic really. It was a wrong pace note basically. We got caught out when a corner was longer than we thought it would be. It kept on going and we got out on the gravel and then we went sideways off the road and on to our side. It was just low speed, but we couldn't get back on the stage. Fortunately for Michael the sun wasn't red hot so he didn't get sunburnt like in Mexico."

Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "It was a very tricky downhill section, fast with lots of corners. We had lots of notes and maybe I was a little confused. I braked too late and ended up on loose gravel. I tried to get some grip from the inside of the corner but there were rocks and this put me on two wheels. We then went straight on at the next corner and hit a tree ending up two or three metres down from the road. There were no injuries except my thumb is now twice its normal size. I cried for an hour after the accident, but then I spoke to my father and I was okay. I don't want to go off the road any more."

555 Subaru

Stephane Sarrazin and Petter Solberg fought hard on the twisty stages today and moved up the leaderboard to eighth and 11th overall respectively. On only his second Tour de Corse, Chris Atkinson demonstrated his increasing confidence on asphalt and moved up 15 places. He will start tomorrow's final Leg in 14th place.

Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "It's been another difficult day for me. I'm doing my best and testing a lot of things, but that's pretty much all I can do."

Stephane Sarrazin/Stephane Prevot: "It's okay. We improved the car a bit, I'm more confident with it and can push a bit more but it's still difficult. We are fighting for seventh position and I will try to catch Stohl, he's only 30 seconds in front and everything is possible tomorrow. It will be a long day though, there are still four stages to go and they are quite tricky, so we will see."

Chris Atkinson/Glen MacNeall: "In general I'm pretty happy with how we were going today. Our performance has been good this afternoon, we just keep learning, keep chipping away and that's the plan for tomorrow too."

Red Bull-Skoda Team

Without any problems on the remaining two stages in the afternoon, Harri Rovanpera managed to bring his Fabia WRC home to the day's final service where a lot of people waited to congratulate him on his 40th birthday, but the Finn immediately had to leave for a doping test. Andreas Aigner had to wait a very long time before his car, which was damaged when it hit a parapet on SS6, had been brought back to Ajaccio.

Harri Rovanpera/Risto Pietelainen: "My birthday was a very strenuous one for me. I never had to work that hard before. Still I will for sure drink to it once more with the team after the doping test. I hope that I can finish the rally tomorrow with a good performance and then I will look forward to the gravel stages of Sardinia".

Andreas Aigner/Timo Gottschalk: "Of course I'm disgruntled about my mistake, but I'll try to learn from it. I just hope that our crew will be able to repair the car in time because every kilometre I can drive tomorrow will help me next year."

-rallyenewsletter.com-

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About this article
Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team , M-Sport