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pcwrc2005 Rd.8 Telstra Rally Australia
Production Car World Rally Championship Rd.8
11 to 13 November 2005
WRC
Toshi is leading PCWRC
SUBARU maintains top four positions after full of dramas

Leg2
Event News
12 November 2005
Copyright © STI 

Day two of this year's Telstra Rally Australia dawned bright and clear; with weather conditions staying sunny throughout the day, temperatures reaching 24 degrees by lunch. One compromise of the idyllic conditions was the lack of any breeze, meaning that dust thrown up by cars hung in the air for what seemed like ages, compromising visibility for drivers and fans alike.

The morning's stages comprised the five Bannister tests. Beginning with the17.70km Bannister North 1 test, crews headed directly to the Bannister Central 1 stage (17.85kms) before heading to the very short Bannister Loop test, at 3.61kms. After a re-group, the cars ran through the Bannister North and Bannister Central tests once more, before heading for the lunchtime Service.

The afternoon saw the crews repeating two of yesterday's tests; Beraking (23.30kms) and Flynns (19.87kms) before another re-group prior to the final pair of Superspecials in Perth in the evening.

After such a disappointing start to his rally on Leg one, Argentina's Marcos Ligato was on a charge today. The first test of the morning saw him third-quickest; and he would take second on the following stage. Although a very long way back (39 minutes on the leading car), Ligato was like a man possessed. He took stage wins on the third, fourth and fifth tests of the day before heading back to Service. Unfortunately, a less than perfect tyre choice meant his progress was thwarted for the afternoon's tests. He remained in tenth position to the end of the leg however.

Copyright © STI 
At the head of the PCWRC field, the battle was in full swing - with overnight leader Mark Higgins maintaining the advantage over Toshi Arai for the first three stages. The pair was incredibly consistent, setting stage times within two seconds of each other on this first group of tests. However, Higgins' legendary bad luck struck on the fourth test of the morning, SS15 (Bannister North 2), the Briton getting a puncture and losing nearly two minutes in the process.

It was shortly after that he encountered the famous watersplash at Bunnings. The lower profile at the front of the car due to the puncture meant water got into the engine, causing it to die momentarily - though they were able to get going again, with only a few seconds lost.

Mark maintained a pace almost identical to Toshi's for the next couple of stages, running in second place until SS17 (Beraking), when Aki Teiskonen overtook the current British Rally Champion. On the following stage, a spin cost Higgins another 20-odd seconds, and a stoved-in rear of the car after some contact with the scenery.

Toshi was his usual calm self, never showing any stress as he led the PCWRC competitors throughout the bulk of the day's tests, controlling the pace and maintaining a comfortable lead of about 1 minute, 20 seconds.

Copyright © STI 
Aki Teiskonen had been making good progress throughout the morning's tests; but really shone on the day's most difficult stages - SS17 and SS18, where he took nearly 10 seconds out of Toshi's lead.

Gabriele Pozzo, quite possibly the most impressive driver among the STI-equipped SUBARU runners on the opening day, had a disastrous first stage today, losing more than a minute - and dropping from third to fifth place. He kept up a good pace throughout the day, almost identical to leader Arai's, inheriting fourth place on SS17 after getting ahead of Mitsubishi driver Fumio Nutahara.

Nasser Al Attiyah, who had been going so strongly all day yesterday, was hampered by a total lack of turbo boost this morning, considerably slowing his progress on today's stages. He managed to hold on to sixth place throughout Leg two's seven forest stages, and was the top SUBARU runner in the Superspecials, scoring 2nd both times, just behind Nutahara.

Al Attiyah needs only to finish in the position he's presently in (sixth), with Marcos Ligato finishing out of the points (he's presently in tenth) for the Qatari driver to clinch 2nd place in the PCWRC drivers' title. With Ligato some 28 minutes away from the lowest points-scoring position, Nasser needs only to maintain his current position - and pace, to secure the vice-champion laurels tomorrow afternoon.

Copyright © STI 
Toshi Arai
"Yes, it's been good today. We've enjoyed the stages. There have been many, many rocks on the road, and it's very easy to get a puncture. I'm planning on taking it carefully for the last few tests, keeping my margin over the next car - but not taking too many risks."

Mark Higgins
"Everything was going perfectly until the puncture. Naturally, we're very disappointed at losing the lead, but we're still only half way through the rally, and there's time yet to make up some of the lost ground."


STI Group N Project General Manager George Donaldson:
"Although Toshi Arai's seemingly well out in front with just the final Leg to run, it would take only a puncture for that situation to be suddenly reversed. We saw what happened to Mark Higgins this morning; and to Gabriele Pozzo too. They both survived, but it shows just how easy it is to lose the lead - or a margin over the car behind. He's run a very well-paced event so far, though there's 100 kilometres to run tomorrow as anything can happen on the final day of an event - and it usually does. It is impossible to make any predictions at this stage as it's still all to play for."

The final day of competition gets underway rather earlier than the preceding two legs, with crews leaving parc ferme at 06:30 hours for the final 100 kilometres of stages. Comprising six stages in total - two loops of three tests each, with the longest stage of the event, the Helena North test (29.93kms) the penultimate test before the ceremonial finish in Perth.


Pos Driver Car Name Time/Diff  
1 Toshihiro ARAI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:32:22.5  
2 Aki TEISKONEN SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI +1:14.7  
3 Mark HIGGINS SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI +1:34.1  
4 Gabriel POZZO SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI +2:06.3  
5 Fumio NUTAHARA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII +3:03.8  
6 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI +4:30.7  
7 Federico VILLAGRA Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII +10:27.5  
8 Fabio FRISIERO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII +13:05.4  
9 Riccardo ERRANI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII +29:38.1  
10 Marcos LIGATO SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI +40:57.5  
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