Tour de Corse: Subaru leg two summary

After claiming three victories from the last three WRC events, Leg two of the 2004 Tour de Corse was a disappointing one for Subaru. As unpredictable Corsican weather continued to make tyre selections difficult, Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen...

After claiming three victories from the last three WRC events, Leg two of the 2004 Tour de Corse was a disappointing one for Subaru. As unpredictable Corsican weather continued to make tyre selections difficult, Petter Solberg and Mikko Hirvonen were unable to find the winning pace they had recently shown in Japan, Great Britain and Italy. Ending the day in sixth and eleventh place respectively, both remain committed to achieving the best possible result on tomorrow's final Leg.

Stage Reports

SS5: 0923 Vico - Col de Sarzoggiu 1 (36.24km)

Starting from the town of Vico, the first stage of Leg two took crews over an abrasive asphalt road surface for 5km through the village of Arbori. This was followed by a series of steep, descending corners down to the Truggia Bridge before a jump and a twisty climb to Sarzaggiu, at 612 metres above sea level. The second longest stage of the event, it bought disaster for Peugeot's Cedric Robert. The French Super 1600 Championship winner spun his 307 WRC and hit a wall. Robert was uninjured, but his stricken car blocked the stage for the following cars of Marcus Gronholm and Carlos Sainz. Both Sainz and Gronholm were delayed at the accident scene and were forced to abandon their timed runs, before driving slowly to the finish. They were later awarded a representative time that reflected their performance on the event so far. After a 30-minute hold-up, the stage was restarted and Ford's Markko Martin clinched the win. Francois Duval was second fastest, despite running wide on a corner and stalling his engine, while Sebastien Loeb was third. Petter Solberg was sixth fastest and Mikko Hirvonen twelfth. Although heavy overnight rain had ceased before the start, conditions remained humid and the asphalt surface was damp. After the finish, crews drove a 20.38km road section to a 10-minute tyre service.
Fastest Stage Time: Martin (Ford) 25:49.0

SS6: 1111 Peri - Bastelica 1 (40.94km)

Although no rain fell as cars contested the longest stage of the rally, the 40.94km test from Peri, the mountainous road surface remained damp. Using information from their safety crews who had been re-instated for the two tarmac events in Corsica and Spain, the WRC drivers negotiated the stage's blend of narrow bridges, narrow roads and linked 90-degree bends. Setting an average speed of 90.89kph, Markko Martin was fastest, with Francois Duval second and Sebastien Loeb third. Petter Solberg was sixth fastest, just behind the Peugeot of Marcus Gronholm, while his team-mate Hirvonen was twelfth. A gear-shift problem for Armin Schwarz in his Skoda Fabia meant the German lost more than a minute and a half and was fourteenth fastest. After the finish, crews returned to Ajaccio for a 20-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Martin (Ford) 27:01.6

SS7: 1502 Vico - Col de Sarzoggiu 2 (36.24km)

Drivers once again faced the vagaries of the Corsican weather on the second pass through the long stage from Vico. Having left Ajaccio in bright sunshine, heavy rain showers punctuated the 57km drive to the start of the test. The rain ceased before the stage start, but the road surface remained damp in places. Running on heavily cut slick tyres, Francois Duval was fastest through the steep, mountainous route to take his third win of the event. His team-mate Markko Martin was second fastest, while Sebastien Loeb was third. Subaru driver Petter Solberg was fourth quickest, 2.3 seconds behind Loeb. Having commented that he was lacking the necessary confidence in his car, Peugeot's remaining points- nominated driver Marcus Gronholm struggled with the handling of his 307 and was fifth fastest, 32.9 seconds off the winning pace. Competing in a Bozian prepared Peugeot 206, Alexandre Bengue knocked his right rear wheel out of alignment, damaged his transmission and lost over four minutes to the leaders. After the stage was complete, crews drove 20.38km to a 10-minute tyre service.
Fastest Stage Time: Duval (Ford) 25:58.5

SS8: 1650 Peri - Bastelica 2 (40.94km)

Heavy rain dominated the action on the second pass through the long stage from Peri as the narrow mountain roads turned to rain-drenched smooth asphalt. The majority of drivers started the final stage on full wet weather tyres, or modified 'intermediates' with extra grooves cut into the tread. Setting a time 35.4 seconds slower than his previous winning time through the test, Ford's Markko Martin was fastest, despite a small under-bonnet fire for the last 3km due to a leak from his power steering system. Loeb was second fastest, while Duval was 11.2 seconds off the winning pace in third. Subaru's Mikko Hirvonen struggled to judge the correct line through left hand corners due to condensation build up inside his windscreen and was twelfth fastest, while Solberg was sixth. No such luck for Bozian team member Bengue. After leaving the preceding tyre service three-minutes late, the Frenchman retired in the stage with transmission problems. Once the test was complete, crews returned to Ajaccio for a final 45-minute service.
Fastest Stage Time: Martin (Ford) 27:37.0

Team Quotes

Petter Solberg
It's been a very difficult day for us again. The frustrating thing is that the car feels good and we've seen glimpses of the pace we need, but at the end of the day we just can't catch the leaders. We've tried everything possible today and we'll keep doing the same tomorrow. Hopefully we can learn something. I'll keep focused on the job and do all I can, there isn't really much more to say.

Mikko Hirvonen
It's been another challenging day, but not too bad overall. The roads have been so wet and slippery in places, but it's been a good experience to drive them like that and I've learned a lot. We've continued to experiment with the car settings, to further improve the feeling, and I'm looking forward to tackling more kilometres tomorrow.

Team Principal, David Lapworth
We've seen again today that it's going to be difficult to salvage a good result from this rally, but we're taking every opportunity to work on the set-up and tyres and learn for the future.

News from Pirelli

Fiore Brivio , Pirelli Tyres Rally Manager
The weather conditions certainly didn't help us. Even more than yesterday, we were facing a continual gamble to try and work out the best combination of tyres and car set-up. But, the fact remains that this challenge has allowed us to take on board a lot of information, which will be useful for the future.

Tomorrow's Leg
Sunday 17 October 2004

The final Leg will start at 0720hrs when the first car will leave Ajaccio parc fermé. Crews will then contest two mountain stages, which will then be repeated in the afternoon after a 20-minute service. After the final 112.10 competitive kilometres, the event will conclude when the winning car crosses the finish ramp at 1430hrs.


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Series WRC