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.
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
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
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.
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
, 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.
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.