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Drama a matter of Corse.

''I'm feeling happier and happier with this car,'' the Italian said, ''I'm now reaching the car's braking limit, but I'm still not driving at 100 per cent. There's still one leg to go, so we'll see.”
Separating Jean-Joseph and Makinen just outside the points, six-times Corsica winner Didier Auriol finally felt that he was making progress with the SEAT Cordoba. Unable to break into the top six on any stage, the Frenchman pointed to small set-up problems that were still causing his handling to be far from his liking, but was happy enough just to make it into the final day of the rally.

''I've finally made the right tyre choice, but I'm still fighting the car,'' he reported, ''I'm doing what I can… The power steering stiffened up a couple of times during the early part of the day, and it seems that we were losing time going uphill, gaining it coming down.''

The second Cordoba suffered from a series of gearbox maladies, which prevented Toni Gardemeister from making the most of his short break into the top ten, leaving the Finn in eleventh overnight. Further back, in 13th, alister McRae continued to use the rally as a much-needed asphalt test for Hyundai, struggling with the hard surface and missing the experienced feedback of team-mate Kenneth Eriksson. He also had stering problems and damaged a tyre midway through the day, which cost him time.

!We're trying a lot of different things on the car,'' he reported, ''That fact that the third leg's stages will be the same as those on the first means that we will be able to make a comparison having made those changes.”

Group N continued to go the way of championship leader Manfred Stohl, despite the Austrian reporting that he had made several dubious tyre choices. It appeared to matter little, however, as his nearest rival at the end of the day - Gustavo Trelles - was well over a minute adrift.

Stohl's closest rivals after day one both hit problems, with Jean-Marie Santoni dropping to fourth in class by the end of the leg, and Gianluigi Galli retiring altogether after going off the road on SS9. Krisztian Hideg took full advantage of the problems to move into third in class, but lies over three minutes behind the leader.

Things are closer at the front and, with just 0.2secs, and no team orders, separating Delecour and Panizzi as the third and final leg begins, the championship contenders will press on in case one or both succumbs to problems as they strive for victory. It may be a Peugeot demonstration at the moment, but may not stay that way for long.

Stage winners - leg two.

SS7 Morosaglia (31.91km) Gilles Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 21mins 02.8secs
SS8 Taverna (16.14km) Cancelled due to crowd congestion
SS9 Noceta (16.60km) Gilles Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 6mins 36.8secs
SS10 Col San Quilico (22.47km) Gilles Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 15mins 21.6secs
SS11 Pont Sant Laurent (26.44km) Francois Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 17mins 30.9secs
SS12 Altiani (16.52km) Francois Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 10mins 26.3secs


Overall times after SS12

1. Francois Delecour Peugeot 206 WRC 02hrs 37mins 16.8secs +00mins 00.0secs
2. Gilles Panizzi Peugeot 206 WRC 02hrs 37mins 17.0secs +00mins 00.2secs
3. Carlos Sainz Ford Focus WRC 02hrs 37mins 42.7secs +00mins 25.9secs
4. Richard Burns Subaru Impreza WRC2000 02hrs 38mins 46.7secs +01mins 29.9secs
5. Marcus Gronholm Peugeot 206 WRC 02hrs 39mins 23.6secs +02mins 06.8secs
6. Piero Liatti Ford Focus WRC 02hrs 39mins 47.3secs +02mins 30.5secs
7 Simon Jean-Joseph Subaru Impreza WRC 02hrs 39mins 48.9secs +02mins 32.1secs
8. Didier Auriol SEAT Cordoba WRC 02hrs 40mins 15.6secs +02mins 58.8secs
9. Tommi Makinen Mitsubishi Lancer Evo6 02hrs 41mins 39.9secs +04mins 23.1secs
10. Sebastien Loeb Toyota Corolla WRC 02hrs 42mins 24.5secs +05mins 07.7secs

11. Toni Gardemeister SEAT Cordoba WRC 02hrs 42mins 36.6secs +05mins 19.8secs
12. Fabrice Morel Peugeot 206 WRC 02hrs 42mins 53.0secs +05mins 36.2secs
13. Alister McRae Hyundai Accent WRC 02hrs 43mins 52.9secs +06mins 36.1secs

Group N

18. Manfred Stohl Mitsubishi Carisma GT 01hrs 52mins 41.4secs +12mins 51.4secs
20. Gustavo Trelles Mitsubishi Lancer 01hrs 53mins 58.1secs +14mins 02.5secs
Krisztian Hideg Mitsubishi Carisma GT 02hrs 53mins 09.7secs +15mins 52.9secs
Jean-Marie Santoni Mitsubishi Carisma GT 01hrs 54mins 00.6secs +16mins 00.1secs

Retirements

Rtd Colin McRae Ford Focus WRC accident - SS10
Rtd Gianluigi Galli Mitsubishi Carisma GT retired - SS9
Rtd Kenneth Eriksson Hyundai Accent WRC clutch - SS2
Rtd Petter Solberg Subaru Impreza WRC2000 Gearbox/OTL - SS2
Rtd Freddy Loix Mitsubishi Carisma GT accident - SS1

[Times courtesy Mitsubishi Motors]


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Francois Delecour - Peugeot 206 WRC
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