Stohl satisfied with start

Stohl satisfied with startFrom Citroen Press [ 19/01/2007 ].
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The OMV Kronos Citroen World Rally Team is satisfied with the beginning of the “Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo”. Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor lie in seventh overall place following the first two special stages that were completed Thursday night. Taking into consideration that only 100 kilometres of testing with the new Citroen Xsara WRC could be done prior to the first run to the FIA World Rally Championship, the OMV driver did an excellent job.

Better than expected
Following the first testing last Sunday Manfred Stohl looked a little bit worried. But already after the shakedown on Thursday things cleared up for the OMV driver. At this point he would never have reckoned with fourth-best shakedown time. Stohl: “Getting to know the car seems to go faster than I expected. But there is still a lot of work ahead. We have to test the car’s limits, but without getting off the road.“ For the evening the first two night special stages since 1997 had been scheduled. The OMV duo Stohl/Minor mastered the overall 46,40 special stage kilometres without any problems and reached the finish in Valence in seventh place, 1:01,7 minutes behind. Stohl: “It was truly a satisfying beginning. Taking into account that tarmac is definitely not my favourite surface we did a very good job. Each kilometre is important to us in order to gain experience. Thus we will be able to improve constantly. Therefore we won’t take full risk on Friday even though scoring points remains our objective.”

Loeb at comeback in a league of his own
The premiere of the Citroen C4 WRC also meant an impressive comeback for Sebastien Loeb. The French World Champion took two best times and currently leads in front of his Spanish teammate Dani Sordo. Vice-Champion Marcus Grönholm (Fin/Ford Focus WRC) lies in third place, already 29,1 seconds behind.

The 46 kilometres long heart of the rally
The second leg of the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo will commence on Friday (January 19) at 6.50. Scheduled are six special stages with a length of overall 150,62 kilometres. Among these the 46,02 kilometres long special stage „St. Pierreville – Antraigues“ constitutes one of the longest stages in the whole FIA World Rally Championship. The heart of the rally will be completed as SS 3 (08.19) and SS 6 (15.17). The first car is expected back at the service in Valence at about 19.53.

Intermediate standings after two of 15 special stages
01. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena (F) Citroen C4 WRC 23:29,9 min.
02. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti (E) Citroen C4 WRC +23,9 sec.
03. Marcus Grönholm/Timo Rautiainen (Fin) Ford Focus RS WRC 06 +29,1 sec.
04. Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen (Fin) Ford Focus RS WRC 06 +51,7 sec.
05. Petter Solberg/Philip Mills (N) Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 +57,6 sec.
06  Chris Atkinson/Glenn Mcaneall (Aus) Subaru Impreza WRC 2006 +1:00,1 min.
07. Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor (A) Citroen Xsara WRC +1:01,7 min.
08. Toni Gardemeister/Jakke Honkanen (Fin) Mitsubishi Lancer WR05 +1:06,1 min.
09. Jan Kopecky/Filip Schovanek (CZ) Skoda Fabia WRC +1:13,2 min.
10. Xavier Pons/Xavier Amigo (E) Mitsubishi Lancer WR05 +1:33,1 min.