Rd.4 BP Ultimate Acropolis Rally

Production Car World Rally Championship
 
1 to 3 June 2007

LEG TWO

Toshi stays well ahead of the competition

2 June 2007
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Leg two was another day of treacherous conditions for the Subaru-equipped drivers in the P-WRC, though a few of the protagonists were able to consolidate their positions throughout the course of the day.

Toshi Arai led the way all morning, building on his initial gap of 4.6 seconds - unchanged from overnight after he and Mitsubishi rival Juho Hanninen recorded identical times on the opening test of the day, the 48.88-km Agii Theodori 1 stage. The fact that they were running 1-2 in the category speaks volumes for the level of competition in the P-WRC. By the Lunchtime Service, Arai's gap over Hanninen was up to 29.8 seconds, the Japanese praising the strength of the car back at Service. In the afternoon, Toshi's chief rival fell back towards the end of the day, handing Arai a two-and-a-half minute lead going into the evening Superspecial. On the spectator stage, Toshi took a jump flat out and hurt his back slightly as the car landed on the flat rather than on the down ramp. A quick visit to the physio confirmed he's fine.

Another Subaru-equipped driver making advances on leg two was Mirco Baldacci, recovering from an up and down day yesterday, and settling into fifth place for the quartet of morning stages. He made very good progress on the day's opening stage, only later to be thwarted by overheating shock absorbers. "It was very strange. I felt the shocks go soft and I had to slow down for six or seven kilometres. Then they stiffened up again and I could drive normally," remarked the San Marino native. The problem then came back in the afternoon briefly, costing him more time lost. He ran steadily in fifth place on all eight stages today, though continued to suffer from a lack of grip, unable to get his tyres working quite right. It seemed the Michelin-shod entrants had a little bit of an edge in this regard.

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Nasser Al Attiyah made up two positions on the opening stage of the day, the very long Agii Theodori 1 test. He ran in seventh position for the rest of the morning, reporting no problems at all on the car. In the afternoon, the Qatari moved into sixth on SS14, but then slipped back to seventh for the remainder of the day. He did experience a problem with a front suspension link, but came back to Service without any problem.

Takuma Kamada had good start on the long stage, elevating the #52 car to eighth place. The Japanese would hang on to the position until the last of the morning's tests, dropping out of the points briefly before lunch. In the afternoon, he took the position back, and ran in eighth to the end of the day.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"It's been another tension-filled afternoon here in the Production championship as we wait to see who's going to have a problem and who is not. Toshi so far has been the king of clean. He's been driving very, very quickly and equally carefully, measuring the pace perfectly so far. He now sports a 2:21-minute lead, so we're obviously extremely happy with that - and here's hoping he can keep it up for the remaining four stages tomorrow. Remember last year this event was turned on its head on the final leg; we saw the guy who started third finish the day on top. I'm hoping that we don't have any dramas tomorrow, but it's not out of the bounds of credibility. It will require all of Toshi's skills to bring the car home in the premier position.

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"Mirco Baldacci has just kept his head down, driving around a couple of problems. With his tyres, he's just not getting the grip and the wear that he expected. He also had a problem with his rear shocks. He's very much in touch with the two cars in front of him, and is likely to be challenging for a top three position tomorrow. Nasser has also had a problem with tyres. He's wearing them out, not getting the grip required. On top of this, he got a small rattle from the suspension and an electrical glitch at the end of the day. He's running in seventh, very much in touch with Mark Higgins in sixth. Takuma Kamada has also impressed. After starting the leg in 11th, he made great progress on the opening stage to get up to eighth, a position he maintained throughout the day. He's now only 30 seconds behind Nasser. Mirco, Nasser and Takuma have all got themselves into the points, with Mirco poised for a potential podium finish. It's all to play for tomorrow, and will surely be an interesting day's sport."



Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Toshihiro ARAI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:15:54.1 0.0
2 Juho HÄNNINEN Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:18:16.0 +2:21.9
3 Andreas AIGNER Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:19:17.1 +3:23.0
4 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:19:36.8 +3:42.7
5 Mirco BALDACCI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:19:51.1 +3:57.0
6 Mark HIGGINS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:21:22.6 +5:28.5
7 Nasser Saleh AL-ATTIYAH SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:21:24.6 +5:30.5
8 Takuma KAMADA SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 3:22:00.7 +6:06.6
9 Gabriel POZZO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:24:34.7 +8:40.6
10 Simone CAMPEDELLI Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:25:20.6 +9:26.5