WRC » 14 May 2005
Loeb only has to finish now to win in Cyprus...
"It was the same right corner where Gardemeister got his puncture," explained Harri. "After he hit a rock, it dislodged more and we hit one that then came into the wheel housing and lodged into the damper, which obviously then got blocked. The suspension arm broke and although we tried to continue it was better to stop, not cause any more damage and be able to re-start tomorrow."
Janne Tuohino completes the last of the provisional points' scorers for Skoda, his only problem coming in SS8 when he had an issue with the turbo boost on his Fabia.
Further down the leaderboard, Chris Atkinson is 13th, after re-starting, while Gilles Panizzi is 15th and Armin Schwarz 16th. Schwarz was forced out again today when the sump guard hit a rock and catapulted the car off the stage in SS11. Like Rovanpera though he is expected to re-join on Sunday.
"Today was all about trying to drive with caution, almost at cruise speed, to stay out of trouble," said the German. "Unfortunately we ran over a big rock about 6kms into SS11 which kicked the car into the air from the impact with the sump guard. It was just before a corner and so we went off the road and couldn't get back on. The car isn't damaged and we should be back out again tomorrow."
Petter Solberg meanwhile was officially retired for good this morning, the team concerned about the condition of his engine.
The big - and third - permanent retirement today though was that of Francois Duval. The Belgian going out in spectacular fashion in SS11, when he went off the road in his Citroen Xsara WRC and hit a tree. Although Duval and his co-driver, Stephane Prevot were both unhurt - the car caught fire and as a result the stage was neutralised for all those running behind him.
"The braking zone for the right-hand turn [4km into SS11] was bumpy," explained Duval. "Bumpier than first time through [this morning]. I braked a little too late, missed the apex and under-steered off the road down a two-metre bank. The front of the car hit a tree and the impact damaged the fuel injection system. A small fire broke out but that was swiftly put out by the onboard extinguishers. I didn't succeed in opening the bonnet but I estimated that the damage wasn't too bad and tried to re-start. However, fire broke out again and the flames spread to the dry undergrowth around the car. There was nothing we could do."
In the Production Car WRC, there is no change, with Frenchman Brice Tirabassi still out front in his Subaru Impreza, some 2 minutes or so up on Sebastian Beltran, while Marcos Ligato completes the provisional class podium.
The final day tomorrow [Sunday] is the shortest with 95.34km of competition. Drivers leave Limassol at 06.00 and face two more loops of three identical stages in the hilly and forested Machairas area, north-east of the town. The two loops are split by service back in Limassol. Competitors return to the town for the final time for the seafront finish ceremony at 15.17.
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