WRC » 21 July 2001
Makinen maintains the lead at the end of leg two.
Harri Rovanpera said: ''Maybe in a few places I'm pushing a little harder than yesterday but generally it's the same speed. It would be easy to think I can chase after Tommi now but to be honest, we seem to have found a reasonable speed where the car can cope with conditions and I think it would be silly to try for more than that. I intend to keep this pace to the finish - our plan was always to do that and it seems to be working.''
Meanwhile at Subaru the sole remaining Impreza WRC2001 of Petter Solberg needed major work after today's second section. The young Norwegian's car suffered a rear driveshaft failure, and the Subaru team elected to change the rear differential and gearbox as a precautionary measure in case any damage had been inflicted. They also replaced all four corners of its suspension, and Solberg picked up 10 seconds of road penalty as the work took slightly longer than the 20 minutes allocated to service.
Petter Solberg started today's second leg in fourth, but Carlos Sainz's retirement promoted him to third. He also looked likely to home in on second-placed Harri Rovanperä after setting fastest time on that opening section, but subsequent transmission problems dropped him back into a more lonely third position.
Petter Solberg said: ''The transmission problem was worrying, because I heard a big bang, felt the car judder and I thought it might be the propshaft. And if that starts flying around it could hit the fuel tank, and we know what could happen then. So I decided just to drive ever so slowly to make sure I got back to service. I'm picking up experience on different roads and conditions on virtually every section here, and it's all very important for me. Of course I'd like to be closer to Harri in second but I'm driving for a finish now, learning more and making changes to my pacenotes for next year. We'll stick to our pace like we've done all along and see what happens, but there's a long way to go yet.''
At Ford Carlos Sainz's Ford Focus RS WRC01 retired on today's opening competitive section. The Spaniard had completed around 35km of the test before a piston failure caused his engine to stop. François Delecour's Focus was hampered by a lack of water in the windscreen washers, and he also picked up road penalties when his Ford team decided to change the gearbox late in second service. During the resulting frantic work by mechanics, a lead from the starter motor became damaged and Delecour lapsed into lateness as the unit was replaced. He then suffered from broken power steering in the next test.
Carlos Sainz didn't get a chance to push Tommi Mäkinen on this morning's long stage, as engine failure brought the Spaniard's rally to a premature halt. François Delecour dropped out of the top four when his windscreen washers ran out of water in the first section. With poor visibility, the Frenchman clipped a bridge and then had to stop and change the resulting puncture. A failed wheel nut gun cost him more time there, although he still occupied a points-scoring position.
Carlos Sainz said: ''I don't seem to be having much luck at the moment. It looks like a piston has failed - there was certainly no warning before the engine stopped. This is yet another Safari Rally that's turning into a battle of who can finish but that's nothing new - I've seen plenty of rallies here in the past like this. It looks easier for Tommi now but anything can really happen.''
François Delecour added: “Malcolm (Wilson, Ford team boss) instructed me from the start to finish this rally and that's what I'm working towards. I'm still trying to find a comfortable pace but the main thing is for me not to make a mistake. The problem with the windscreen washers was really bad, though - I could see nothing!''
At Skoda both Octavia WRCs, driven by Bruno Thiry and Armin Schwarz, hit transmission trouble this morning. Schwarz's car lost centre and front differential pressure in the day's opening section, making it hard for the German to retain control of the car during some of the long water-splashes and mud-holes. The team wasn't able to correct the problem at the following service, though, so the former European champion had to tackle CS6 with the same difficulties. The problem was rectified for CS7, although he felt that the differential mapping needed further work, and he then hit suspension problems in CS8. Thiry's car completed the first test without major dramas, but then hit intermittent power steering glitches and also lost differential pressure in CS6.
Despite this Armin Schwarz has managed to maintain a steady yet respectable pace throughout this event and the German inched closer to a podium placing today. He started from fifth, but moved up to fourth when Carlos Sainz retired and then eased ahead of François Delecour when the Ford driver had to stop and change a puncture. Schwarz's times have been even more impressive, given that he had to complete the morning's sections with little or no differential pressure.
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