Også Henning Solberg måtte gi tapt på veiene i Portugal idag,som så mange andre i dette rallyet som er preget av veier som holder lav standard etter mye regn den siste tiden.
Appalling weather conditions have again played their part on the second day of the TAP Rally of Portugal, third round of the 2001 FIA World Rally Championship. Several leading stars including Harri Rovanperä, Freddy Loix and Markko Martin have been forced to retire through accidents and mechanical problems. However, four-time World Champion Tommi Mäkinen still lead over Carlos Sainz, with reigning title-holder Marcus Grönholm and Subaru driver Richard Burns fighting hard for the final podium position.
Technical: Neither Tommi Mäkinen or Freddy Loix had major mechanical problems this morning, but Loix's Lancer lost drive in the second of the three repeated stages, SS15, and the Belgian was forced to retire from the event. Mäkinen had no such problems, however.
Sporting: Tommi Mäkinen extended his advantage over this morning's first three stages, despite concerns about the amount of marshals and spectators standing on or close to the road. He has built his lead up from 18 seconds to around half a minute today and then back to 13 sec. Team-mate Freddy Loix moved further into the points when Harri Rovanperä retired, but the Belgian's run came to a premature end when his Lancer hit transmission problems in SS15.
Quotes: Tommi Makinen said: "It was really hard to push this morning because in some places, the spectators and marshals were running in front of my car, maybe only 15 metres. But it seems to be going well otherwise - the new rear suspension on the Lancer has worked as well as he expected it to. It's giving us more suspension travel, which allows us to soften the car up for the wet conditions and get better grip.”
Technical: After Colin McRae's retirement yesterday evening with engine failure, the two remaining Ford Focus WRC01s have encountered no major mechanical problems today. The 'joystick' gearbox on Francois Delecour's example failed this morning, forcing the Frenchman to switch to a mechanical instead of an electronic connection. He suffered further problems with the gearbox later in the day. His windscreen also misted up, making visibility in the early-morning mist extremely poor. Carlos Sainz's Focus, though, has enjoyed a troublefree day.
Sporting: Carlos Sainz has worked hard to close the gap to leader Tommi Mäkinen but he lost further time in this morning's loop of stages. He was stunned to find a safety car in the road in SS12, and then slid wide twice in SS16, so the gap between the pair increased to around half a minute by early afternoon. The Spaniard then won SS18 to reduce the gap to 13sec. Francois Delecour holds a lonely fifth place, too far behind Burns to challenge the Briton and easily clear of Alister McRae.
Quotes: Carlos Sainz: "The mist has been so terrible. I met one car in the middle of the road on today's second stage and there was so little visibility that I could have hit it. I didn't know if it was Tommi, if the stage had been blocked, if there'd been an accident or anything."
Francois Delecour: "I don't like the poor visibility and the misting windscreen made it almost impossible."
Technical: The 206 WRC of Marcus Grönholm lost front differential pressure for five stages. Peugeot was unable to rectify the problem at the first service because of work on the car's fuel filter. The other leading 206 of Harri Rovanperä was forced to retire after today's first loop of three stages. It had lapsed onto three cylinders in SS12, and the engine expired just as the Swedish Rally winner reached the service park. Peugeot sources believe that the problem - head gasket failure - was probably caused when the radiator was damaged yesterday afternoon.
Sporting: Harri Rovanperä's hopes of a Rally of Portugal win were destroyed this morning when his Peugeot's engine lapsed onto three cylinders in today's second stage. The engine died just before the following service and Rovanperä was forced to retire on the spot. His team-mate, World Champion Marcus Grönholm, has fought hard with Richard Burns today. The Finn still holds the upper hand in third, but the gap between the pair remains close. The third 206 of Didier Auriol struggled to make much of an impression on its rivals for manufacturers' points, but retirements helped move the 1994 world champion into eighth overall.
Quotes: Harri Rovanperä: "I'm disappointed. I know some people think thing were easy for me in Sweden because I'm Scandinavian, so I thought setting fast times here would change their minds. Maybe it has. All I can do now is aim to impress again in Argentina." Marcus Gronholm: "I can't really push in the misty conditions. I took it too slowly this morning, which allowed Richard to close in. The differential problems were frustrating because the repeat stages had less fog and I was hoping to make some more time on Richard."
Technical: Markko Martin's Impreza WRC2001 was reluctant to start in this morning's Parc Ferme, but the Estonian driver was able to make repairs and he reached service with no penalty. Richard Burns's example encountered gearbox glitches in SS15 and SS16, and its power steering began to fluctuate in the same stages.
Sporting: Richard Burns pushed hard in this morning's foggy conditions and he closed in on Marcus Grönholm. But the Finn retaliated this afternoon and the pair entered this evening's tests separated by more than 20 seconds. Markko Martin's aim of gaining experience of the Portuguese stages floundered in SS16, meanwhile. The young driver tried to cut a corner, put two wheels over the edge of the road and got stuck. He retired on the spot.
Quotes: Richard Burns: "I'm trying like hell to close the gap to Marcus but it's pretty difficult when we've had the power steering and gearbox problems. At least the fog cleared a bit for this afternoon's tests. I haven't been particularly happy with some of the organisation today - the third stage this morning, in particular, was very bad with spectators."
Markko Martin: "I've learnt an important lesson today - when you can't see, it's hard to drive! I didn't have much experience of foggy conditions before this event, so while I'm disappointed to retire, it's been a worthwhile rally. "
Technical: Kenneth Eriksson has suffered mixed reliability from his Accent WRC2 today. The Swede's wipers failed in SS11 and the Swede had to effect repairs using a branch to restore visibility. In this afternoon's stages, water started to leak into the car's cabin, causing the windscreen to mist up. Alister McRae's example has been more reliable, although the starter motor failed at third service and the Scot had to bump-start the car to get it into the time control.
Sporting: Alister McRae benefited from his team-mate's problems this morning to move ahead, and the dramas which befell Rovanperä, Loix and Martin have promoted the 1995 British champion to a points scoring position. Kenneth Eriksson's technical glitches cost the Swede valuable time but he still holds seventh and is on course to score a manufacturers' point for Hyundai.
Quotes: Alister McRae: "I can tell now that our new suspension is better because if I'd say the old version of the Accent would have struggled on these rough conditions. Apart from that, I have to say that I'm not really enjoying myself - conditions are just too nasty for that."
The leading privateer is now former British champion Tapio Laukkanen, who holds ninth in a Toyota Corolla. But the Finn is not registered for the FIA Teams Cup for privateers, so tenth-placed Pasi Hagstrom stands to claim maximum points in that category. Two of his main rivals, Henrik Lundgaard and Janusz Kulig, retired with driveshaft failures. Yesterday's top privateer, Daniel Carlsson, suffered power steering failure and struggled in the misty conditions.
In the Group N class for more standard machinery, Marcos Ligato now holds an advantage of well over a minute over reigning category World Champion Manfred Stohl. Stohl lost the class lead today when a front driveshaft failed this morning, and police prevented local spectators from pushing the Austrian up an incline.
Etter dag 2
1 Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 3:19:17,3
1 Sainz Ford Focus RS WRC 3:19:30,3
3 Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 3:21:29,4
4 Burns Subaru Impreza WRC 3:22:24,1
5 Delecour Ford Focus RS WRC 3:27:40,2
6 A.McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 3:29:56,2
7 Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC 3:30:59,1
8 Auriol Peugeot 206 WRC 3:33:58,8
9 Laukkanen Toyota Corolla WRC 3:34:22,0
10 Hagstrom Toyota Corolla WRC 3:36:38,4