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...
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.
SS5: 0953 Vico - Plage du Liamone1 (34.17km)
Crews left Ajaccio for Leg two of the Tour de Corse in dry and sunny conditions. The first test of the day, the 34km pass between the villages of Vico and Limone, proved one of the most incident-filled of the rally so far. The first competitor through, Skoda's Andreas Aigner, stopped when he hit a bridge near the start of the stage and lost a wheel, while Matthew Wilson's day finished when his Focus slid off the road and into a ditch 5km from the start. Belgian Francois Duvalexperienced brake problems with his Skoda Fabia and slowed through the final 10kms. He lost over three minutes to eventual stage winner Loeb and dropped down to 14th overall. Alex Bengue lost third position to Mikko Hirvonen as the Frenchman struggled with the handling of his car. Subaru's Stephane Sarrazin and Petter Solberg had clean drives through the stage to record the ninth and tenth fastest times and move up the leaderboard to ninth and 12th respectively. Subaru team-mate drove with a broken windscreen formost of the stage but still set the 12th quickest time.
Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 24:05.6
SS6: 1200 Ucciani - Bastelica 1 (26.20km)
The start of the second test of Leg two was delayed by 30mins due to an accident in SS5. Mikko Hirvonen took his first stage win of the event to consolidate his newly-gained third position, with Spaniard Dani Sordo second fastest to leapfrog Bengue into fourth overall. Jari-Matti Latvala left the roadapproximately 10km from the stage end and was unable to rejoin. His retirement elevated Subaru's Sarrazin to eighth overall and the final points scoring position. Sarrazin's performance on the stage was affected by having to the drive the last 10km with a badly damaged front tyre. Chris Atkinson set the 11th fastest time, while team-mate Solberg was ninth quickest. The Norwegian also moved up a place following Latvala's accident.
Fastest Time: Hirvonen (Ford) 16:56.9
SS7: 1503 Vico - Plage du Liamone 2 (34.17km)
The first stage after service was a repeat of the 34km stage from Vico to the Plage du Liamone. World Champion Sebastien Loeb posted his second stage win of the day to further extend his lead over second-placed Marcus Gronholm. Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo was second fastest as he chased down Ford's Mikko Hirvonen for third overall. The Spaniard closed the gap to just over two seconds. Many crews reported slippery conditions, including XavierPons, who spun approximately 10km into the stage and collected damage on the rear of his Xsara. Harri Rovanpera, celebrating his 40th birthday during Leg two, also spun and lost nearly two minutes to Loeb. The Subaru trio of Solberg, Sarrazin and Atkinson had trouble-free runs and bettered their morning times. Atkinson's time moved him up two places to 15th overall. Fastest Time: Loeb (Citroen) 24:03.6
SS8: 1644 Ucciani - Bastelica 2 (26.20km)
Leg two finished with the twisty, bumpy 24km Ucciani-Bastelica stage. Dani Sordo and Mikko Hirvonen's fight for third continued, with the Spaniard charging through the stage eight seconds faster than the Finn to take the win. The time eased him into the final podium position with a six second advantage over Hirvonen. Bengue only just held onto fifth place from Pons after he spun and lost over 30secs to Sordo. Loeb extended his lead over Gronholm to 40secs, while Duval went off midway through the stageafter his brakes failed. He retired from the Leg. Sarrazin came through seventh fastest with team-mate Solberg tenth. Chris Atkinson finished off a reliable and consistent run with the 11th best time. He moved up a place to 14th overall.
Fastest Time: Sordo (Citroen) 16:56.8
SWRT SPORTING DIRECTOR, LUIS MOYA:
Petter, Chris and Stephane have all driven well today but we're still trying to find the pace we need on these roads. The cars have run faultlessly all day and this has enabled us to gather useful data which will help us in the future.
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.
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.
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.
NEWS FROM PIRELLI
Mario Isola, Pirelli Competizioni Rally Manager
The progression of Subaru's performances ismore than clear. Stephane did a great job today, as is confirmed by the fact that he is constantly quick and the best of Pirelli-shod cars in the classification after the second Leg. He also drove impressively on the Corsica's special stages, surely enjoyable for the huge volume of spectators that followed this Leg. And after yesterday's bad day, Petter and Chris are already in a positive way and I'm confident about further improvement of the three Subaru Imprezas and their P Zero tyres during the last day ofthis rally.