Rally Japan: Rally reactions - Day 2.

Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"It was quite a nervewracking day. The roads were much faster and it took a while for me to get used to that after the narrow, twisty stages yesterday. This afternoon there were ruts everywhere but I couldn't afford to ease my pace too much. The conditions were difficult and Jari-Matti drove quickly behind me. The strangest moment came this morning when I lost my rhythm after I had to slow when two deer ran across the road in front of me. I came to Japan looking for a victory but even if I achieve that tomorrow, it looks like that won't help my championship challenge now. Tomorrow's stages are soft but they shouldn't be as slippery, so I hope we have an easier time."

Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I succeeded in staying ahead of Sebastien. Maybe he drove carefully in the ruts but, if so, it made my life easier. I needed to drive fast because I didn't want Seb close to me, but equally I didn't want to put Mikko under pressure, so I followed Seb's split times in the stages. I drove cautiously through the first two stages and then stepped up my pace. I wanted to find the right balance and not risk too much, before increasing my speed when I found my confidence. This afternoon I punctured a tyre on the first stage of the loop so I drove a little more cautiously because I had only one spare in the car and another puncture would have meant the end of my rally. In these conditions the only thing to do was follow the ruts and be brave. The tactic was to keep all four wheels in the ruts, like a train track."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"It's no secret that I prefer competing to win. Today, though, it was necessary to keep a cool head. The forest tracks to the south of Sapporo were just as narrow as those we visited on Day 1, but they were faster, too, which means we ran a higher risk of making a mistake."

"Whenever I felt that the conditions were a little too treacherous, I didn't hesitate to brake earlier than normal. There's a great deal at stake here and I didn't want it risk throwing it all away; we just tried to stay focused on our objective which was to consolidate our third place, and I think we succeeded quite well. There is a little less than 100km of stages to come tomorrow. The goal we are aiming for is within reach, but we will need to stay concentrated until the very end."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"Today was ok; we started ahead of Petter but he was a little quicker and got in front. But then he had his accident which is unlucky for the team and the Subaru fans as we were both in good positions and you never know what could happen on this rally. In stage 18, when Petter went off it left a big hole in the ground and we hit it as well and spun round. We damaged our suspension a little bit, but ok we could drive still, but not flat out. I think we are too far behind to push for third tomorrow so the main aim is to keep our position."

Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"We kept our noses clean today and although it hasn't been the best of performances it has worked out perfectly and we are in a solid spot to score good points for the Stobart team. Today has been one of the toughest days of rallying I have contested in a while. The stages, especially over the second pass, were extremely rough and rutted and it took a lot to stay out of trouble and I think this is represented by how much drama happened today with several other crews. Tomorrow we will try to get back to the speed we were setting on Friday and try to stay ahead of the guys running behind us."

Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:

"I'm very proud to have recorded Suzuki's first stage win! But the day has been tricky for us. In the morning I think we drove quite well, although the stages were so slippery and difficult that it was hard to analyse exactly what was going on. Then in the afternoon we had a problem with the rear differential. Nonetheless, we've got to the end of the day within the driver points and our aim is to try and build on that tomorrow."

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

"What a day! It was a real shame we had the puncture, but the roads were so rough that it was inevitable this would happen to somebody. We came into a junction nine kilometres from the start and the soft ground just pulled the tyre off the wheel rim, so I had to stop and change it. That shouldn't take anything away from what has been an extremely positive day for us though. We've been second-fastest on a stage, fifth overall, and the car has been completely reliable: that's a sign of really solid progress."

Federico Villagra [Munchi's Ford WRT]:

"It was very tough. We had some problems in SS18 [the final 'proper' test]. We missed the junction and it was very difficult to turn. The ruts were especially unbelievable in Nikara 2 [SS16]. It was difficult to keep on the line. The car went everywhere and there were jumps which were not in the notes."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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