From Subaru Press [ 22/09/2002 ].
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The second day saw only a handful of retirements and last year’s winner, Peugeot’s Gilles Panizzi, maintained the lead throughout the day. Team-mate Marcus Gronholm holds overnight second, lying 22.1 seconds behind. However, the star of the day was undoubtedly 555 Subaru driver Petter Solberg. The gutsy Norwegian put in a sensational tactical performance and clawed his way up through the leaderboard to finish the Leg in third place, 21.1 seconds ahead of closest rival Richard Burns. He also holds tonight’s honour of being the only non-French team driver to achieve a stage win, after clinching the final two of the day.
However, in a day of mixed fortunes for the 555 Subaru Team, team-mate Achim Mörtl was lucky to escape injury after his car left the road at speed in SS10 and crashed into retirement.
Leg 2 of the 44th Sanremo Rally began at 0600hrs this morning when the remaining 43 competitors left the famous Riveria resort of Sanremo to tackle a further six stages in the Ligurian hills to the north of the town.
Comprising 150.57 competitive kms, Leg 2 revisited routes used on the previous day and presented crews with a mixture of narrow and twisty asphalt tests. While weather conditions remained generally dry, there were occasional light showers and damp patches of tarmac under the trees which made tyre choices difficult but absolutely vital. In the afternoon there was more low cloud and with clouds looming overhead, a tricky decision about which tyres to choose for the marathon 42km SS14.
Petter Solberg: “It’s about time! I’m very, very happy with my driving and the car and the tyres felt really good. I suppose choosing the tyres for the last two stages was a bit of a gamble but we got it absolutely right. From now on it’s going to be a tough race. We know the Peugeot’s good and Richard’s always been quick but the whole package seems to have come together here. I’m guess I’m just going to have to put the throttle pedal to the floor.”
Achim Mörtl: “In SS10, after about 35 km, I had a spin. The car slid wide on a corner and the right rear wheel hit something and knocked the track out of alignment. I carried on but, just before the finish on a sixth gear downhill section, I braked for a corner and the rear of the car just overtook me. We went off the road backwards and hit a concrete bridge. I think we were doing about 80kph when we hit. My helmet hit the roll cage very hard and after the accident I had problems seeing.”
David Lapworth, 555 Subaru Team Principal: "Petter's had a great day, he started with some very good times and just got better and better as things went on. To round off with two fastest stage times was a real lift for him and the team in general after the disappointment yesterday. The only thing to spoil the day has been Achim's retirement. He was gaining in confidence with every stage and it seems a shame that a small mistake has cost him dearly.”
Starts from Sanremo parc ferme at 0600hrs when crews will again travel north to the Ligurian hills to contest the final four stages, comprising 88 competitive kms. The Leg uses two stages, which are both run twice. The winning car is expected to cross the finish ramp back in Sanremo at 1500hrs
1. Panizzi/Panizzi Peugeot 206WRC 3:16:17.8
2. Gronholm / Rautiainen Peugeot 206 WRC + 22.1
3. Solberg / Mills Subaru Impreza WRC2002 + 59.7
4. Burns / Reid Peugeot 206WRC + 1:20.8
5. Martin/Park Ford Focus WRC + 1:26.8
6. Puras/Del Barrio Citroen Xsara WRC + 1:52.0
7. Robert/Bedon Peugeot 206WRC + 2:23.8
8. McRae / Grist Ford Focus WRC + 3:44.3
9. Rovanpera/Silander Peugeot 206WRC + 5:17.2
10. Delecour/Grataloup Mitsubishi Lancer WRC + 6:03.9