12 March 2005
Solberg on course for Mexico win.
Subaru team leader, Petter Solberg remains on course to win the Corona Rally Mexico following leg 2 today [Saturday], the Norwegian taking three more stages win and ending the day nearly 30 seconds up on his nearest rival.
'Hollywood' enjoyed a largely uneventful day, and although Gronholm cut the gap to less than 15 seconds after SS8, Petter responded by going quickest in SS9, SS10 and SS11, to leave the Finn in no doubt as to who is in control.
Like most of the drivers, Solberg had some brake issues, but other than that he has become more and more confident in the new Impreza WRC 2005, which is making its debut this weekend. His only real worry came on SS8 when his car's engine temperature climbed to 126°C.
"We saw on the recce that the first day was like tarmac and that the second leg was rough, so last night we set up the car for safety and raised it a bit," said Petter. "The stages are very tricky and it's very easy to hit rocks. If you are going at 100 per cent it can happen, and we've been quite cautious and not taken any big risks."
Gronholm meanwhile, despite seemingly being prepared to fight for the overall honours this morning, now looks set to settle for second, and not risk a repeat of Sweden. The Finn again suffered brake problems however he carried new pads in the car which he changed after every stage and that seemed to do the trick.
"We're fitting different brakes tomorrow but we're going to have to settle for second," he admitted. "I need the points."
His Peugeot team-mate, Markko Martin is third in the sister 307, around a minute or so further down the road, the Estonian also enjoying a decent day as he continues to adapt to his 'new' team.
"There is nobody close behind me now so there is no need to push so hard," said the former Ford driver. "When it's like that though, it's difficult to get the confidence in the car."
Toni Gardemeister has risen up the pecking order to fourth, the Ford team leader, benefiting from the misfortune which befell his team-mates' Roman Kresta and Daniel Sola, who both went off the road during the day.
Kresta damaged the front right suspension of his Focus on the first loop of stages, opting to stop rather than cause irreparable damage and made the decision not to restart for the final leg of the event, while Sola had a large accident, and the car was too badly damaged for him to continue. Neither will re-start tomorrow.
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