|2008 Rally Finland : WRC Round 9 of 15 : 1st - 3rd August|
In this issue:
1. Leg 2 Unofficial Leaderboard
2. Leg 2 News
4. Leg 2 Team by Team News
5. Remaining Event Schedule
6. Subscription Information
1. Unofficial Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena F Citroën C4 2h33m43.5s
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS +18.2s
3. C Atkinson/S Prevot AUS Subaru Impreza +3m03.6s
4. D Sordo/M Marti E Citroën C4 +3m04.6s
5. H Solberg/C Menkerud N Ford Focus RS +3m31.6s
6. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza +3m58.7s
7. M Rantanen/J Löengren FIN Ford Focus RS +5m55.2s
8. T Gardemeister/T Tuominen FIN Suzuki SX4 +7m28.6s
9. M Wilson/S Martin GB Ford Focus RS +7m54.5s
2. Leg News
Behind the leading two drivers embroiled in a close battle for the lead, Stobart driver Gigi Galli (Ford) moved into third on the opening stage but rolled into retirement four stages later. Dani Sordo (Citroen) took over there but came under increasing pressure from Chris Atkinson (Subaru) this afternoon. After starting the day in seventh, the Australian overhauled Sordo on the final stage by just 1.0sec. Henning Solberg holds fifth ahead of brother Petter (Subaru), who overcame a clutch problem early this morning. Toni Gardemeister (Suzuki) had hydraulic problems this morning, causing the loss of power steering, which brought further pain to the Finn who is struggling with a shoulder injury. He is eighth. Team-mate Per-Gunnar Andersson (Suzuki) retired from ninth when he went off the road close to where Galli rolled. Munchi's driver Federico Villagra (Ford) rolled out on the penultimate test. Team-mate Luis Perez Companc retired following the final stage after a heavy collision with a rock which required co-driver Jose-Maria Volta to be airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks after experiencing pain in his ribs.
4. Team by Team News
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team drivers Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen maintained second place during today's second leg of Rally Finland after a titanic battle for the lead over the fastest and most challenging roads in the FIA World Rally Championship. The Flying Finns traded seconds with arch-rival Sébastien Loeb on every speed test to end the day 18.2sec off the lead in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car.
#3 : Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "What an amazing day! It's been so enjoyable and the speeds were absolutely crazy. I was flat out everywhere, taking huge risks, and the pace today has been higher than last year. On one stage I set the record last year. This morning I was 10sec faster than that and then another seven seconds quicker on the second pass - and I still wasn't fastest. I followed Loeb's lines and I could see that he, too, was right on the edge. It's a fantastic fight and very intense,"
#4 : Jari-Matti Latvala/Miikka Anttila: "It was difficult this morning and I didn't feel comfortable after yesterday's accident. I went wide and got stuck on the first stage but it was better after that and my confidence is returning. I drove fast, but on the safe side of fast, and I'm starting to enjoy the driving again. If I was in a position to fight then I could do that now, whereas this morning nothing felt right."
#19 : Khalid Al Qassimi/Michael Orr: "I'm not thinking about the position as much as the learning experience. There were a lot of surprises, and I slid off on some corners. We had a moment in stage 15 where I went into a bush, so I got back on the track and gave it everything, and was going flat out in fifth gear when I hit a jump. The car was really high off the ground, so much so that I couldn't see the crowd below. I thought there would be a big impact when I landed, but it was fine."
Citroen Total World Rally Team
There were lots of smiles in the Citroën Total camp after the long, tough second day of the Rally Finland, round nine of the 2008 World Rally Championship. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have led since Thursday evening's start, profited from today's thrilling clash to consolidate their position at the top of the provisional leaderboard, while Dani Sordo and Marc Martí follow in fourth place.
#1 : Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: To pull out 3.8s over more than 160km of stages, flat out between the trees, hasn't been simple but it's been a fantastic scrap. It's been so fierce that the possibility of winning or scoring a top result that would give our title chances a welcome boost has barely crossed my mind. I've been concentrating on not making any mistakes and keeping the gap as stable as possible. We succeeded, and the speed of our C4 WRC will be one of our trump cards in our bid to finish in front tomorrow, although I still prefer to take things extremely cautiously…"
#2 : Daniel Sordo/Marc Marti: "I didn't want to take too many risks as we drove new stages. I chose to secure fourth place to try to score good points for the Manufacturers' championship. We still have one day to try to jump on the podium."
Subaru World Rally Team
Chris Atkinson and co-driver Stéphane Prévot have finished the second and longest day of Rally Finland by decisively snatching third position in the final stage of the day after a very strong performance punctuated by a raft of top three stage times. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills also had a positive day to consolidate sixth, feeling more comfortable with their Impreza WRC2008.
#5 : Petter Solberg/Phil Mills: "The balance was not so bad today, but there were times when I felt I just couldn't push. It's frustrating, but I'm just driving as fast as I can. I'm trying you know, definitely. The stages today were very loose, and tomorrow will be the same so we will just see."
#6 : Chris Atkinson/Stephane Prevot: "We had no problems, we're still pushing hard, and it's really good for us to make up this time and get into third. It's great especially when we were down in ninth at one point yesterday. It's good for the team that we're where we are and have been setting some good times. The two guys in front are going really well and are out on their own, but we'll keep pushing hard tomorrow to stay where we are. Dani is quick on the stages he knows and we seem to take some time on the new stages, so it won't be easy."
Stobart VK M-Sport Ford World Rally Team
A tough second day on round nine of the FIA World Rally Championship sees Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud lying in fifth position overall. The pair lead the way for the Stobart VK M-Sport Ford rally team as Neste Oil Rally Finland moves into the final day tomorrow.
Brits Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin slot in as the second best placed Stobart crew in ninth position. Beginning the day in 11th spot the pair drove consistently over the eventful day to be rewarded with a two place advance up the leaderboard.
Unfortunately for team-mates Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini their day ended in a high speed accident after rolling at 14.3 kilometres into stage 16 after slightly misjudging the pace of the road. The same section where the Italians rolled also claimed two other crews including fellow WRC competitor P G Andersson.
#7 : Henning Solberg/Cato Menkerud: "It has been a difficult day. I'm driving quite hard and my times are really good on the fast sections and the car feels great. But on the narrow roads I just struggle to make it work well and find a good rhythm. The feeling isn't the same as yesterday and I thought the new stages today would work to my advantage but they haven't. We had a few moments, especially at the corner where Gigi went off, so I backed off in that stage as it was very difficult but also very fast. So the plan tomorrow is to get to the finish safely; we are still in line for some good points."
#8 : Gigi Galli/Giovanni Bernacchini: "It has been a bitterly disappointing end to the rally here for me. I was just trying to keep our position against Sordo and the accident happened on a tricky left hand corner. My pace notes were slightly out and I ended up sliding into the ditch which then caused the car to roll at high speed into the trees. The car is quite badly damaged and it was obviously a corner that caught out people as two other cars went off in the same place as me. We had got into a good rhythm and found a sensible speed and feeling with the car so I don't think I was pushing too hard on the stage."
#16 : Matthew Wilson/Scott Martin: "Overall I'm glad to have survived a tough day without any major dramas, the last stage today was probably my best and we managed to beat some of the local Finnish guys. Today was difficult and tough but I'm more familiar with the stages used tomorrow as they have been used in previous years so that will give me more confidence. In this rally it's good to have consistency with the stage conditions but today just wasn't like that at all so I'm happy to have got through with no problems."
Suzuki World Rally Team
Day two lived up to its billing as the most demanding of this year's Rally Finland. With 168 kilometres of flat-out action on a difficult and often deceptive mixture of roads and varying surfaces, Suzuki drivers Toni Gardemeister and P-G Andersson were both making strong progress. Unfortunately, P-G's rally ended prematurely and in dramatic fashion when he crashed out of the event not far from the end of SS16. While Toni went on to maintain a provisional points-paying position in 8th, P-G was left to rue the very fast section of the fabled Ouninpohja road in the Kakaristo test which caught the Suzuki-driving Swede out. He and co-driver Jonas Andersson were both left bruised by the accident and will not restart tomorrow.
#11 : Toni Gardemeister/Tomi Tuominen: "My arm has been quite painful from at times today, but otherwise it's been a good day. I've enjoyed the stages, I always do on this rally. I didn't want to take any risks, the team and I need points from this rally - and that's the aim for tomorrow. But, Matthew [Wilson] was not far behind and I had to push to make sure we didn't let him pass."
#12 : Per-Gunnar Andersson/Jonas Andersson: "I was caught out by a very difficult left-hand corner in Kakaristo stage - another car had already crashed at this point. The car went off the road and into a tree. Fortunately, neither myself, nor Jonas were seriously hurt, but we are both feeling quite stiff from the impact. I'm very sorry for everybody in the team. The car had been running really well; we'd had no problems at all during the event and the pace had been good. We were looking at points here, but that's the way the sport goes sometimes."
5. Remaing Event Schedule
Sunday 3 August: Day 3 Jyväskylä - Jyväskylä
Serv I Paviljonki (15 mins) 08.20
SS22 Lankamaa 23.09km 09.38
SS23 Hannula 10.92km 10.44
SS24 Ruuhimäki 6.46km 12.02
Finish Paviljonki 13.30
Rally total 340.42km