Stohl on course for podium

Stohl on course for podiumFrom Citroen Press [ 14/05/2005 ].
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The OMV World Rally Team (Citroen Xsara WRC) are on their way to remain the sensation of the “Rally Cyprus”. After 12 of 18 special stages Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor are still in impressive second overall place. The OMV Team has a lead of 42 seconds on third-placed Norwegian Henning Solberg (Ford Focus WRC). Peugeot works driver Markko Märtin (Est) is further 20 seconds behind.

Visible joy

There was visible joy on Manfred Stohl’s face at then end of day two – after having been rather cautious when stepping out of his car at the service yesterday. The sensation is within reach, for the 32-year-old OMV driver managed to keep his lead on his pursuers Henning Solberg (Nor/Ford) and Markko Märtin (Est/Peugeot) during the second leg. Stohl: „I’ve seen too much in my life to start dreaming right now. But it is impressive when the cameras suddenly turn the spotlight on you.“

Fortune on Stohl’s side

In the morning of the second day the OMV World Rally Team drove a bit too cautious. Solberg und Märtin regained about 20 seconds. Stohl: „I definitely was too cautious there.“ But the Austrian did strike back in the afternoon and extended his lead on his two competitors once again on special stage 10. „This was important to me for I was able to show that they’ll have to play by my rules.“ Then it was time for a little sightseeing in Cyprus. After the severe accident of Citroen-works driver Francois Duval (Bel) on SS 11 – his car burned out completely (driver and Co-driver remained unhurt) – the special stage was cancelled even before the start of Stohl and leader Sebastien Loeb (Fra/Citroen). SS 12 was cancelled as well since too many spctators crowded the road. Both times Stohl was given Henning Solberg’s time.

96 kilometres to sensation

96 kilometres, divided into six special stages, have yet to be completed on Sunday. Among these is the SS „Vavatsinia“, where the OMV driver had to retire in 2002 after skidding off the road. Stohl: „I tried to find the place during the training but the route has been changed and we won’t pass this particular spot this year. But it’s going to be a tough day nevertheless.“