4 August 2007
Finland - leg 2: Gronholm pulls away.
BP Ford team leader, Marcus Gronholm managed to get the better of team-mate, Mikko Hirvonen on day two of the Rally Finland, stretching his advantage almost five-fold.
Gronholm began the second leg, 4.4 seconds up on Hirvonen, after having struggled being first on the road on Friday. However while he was only second quickest in SS12, that opened the leg, he began to ease ahead in SS13 and then took 4.8 seconds out of his young rival on SS14, the first run through the 33.01 kilometre Ouninpohja test, one of the most famous and fastest in the WRC.
From then Marcus was on a roll, taking a further 2.4 seconds in SS15 and then another 3 seconds on the repeat run through Ouninpohja, SS16.
Following the RSZ - remote service zone, drivers' headed to the final loop of the day and Gronholm continued to press on, adding another 4 seconds to his lead in SS17 and another 1 in SS18. He then eased off slightly in SS19 and SS20, the final two of the day, which were won by Hirvonen.
However with Mikko only taking 0.6 seconds back in Ehikki 2 and 0.5 seconds in Surkee, Marcus ended the day with a nice 20.4 second lead and very well placed to take the win on Sunday.
If Gronholm does take the victory tomorrow - and that now looks likely, he will further consolidate his 9 point lead in the drivers' championship and set a new WRC record, as he will have won the Rally Finland seven times, no other driver has ever managed to win a single event that many times.
Sebastien Loeb meanwhile had to be content with third position - and in all probability now the final place on the rostrum.
Like on Friday the Frenchman was unable to match the pace of the Fords and while he won the first test that was the only time he beat Gronholm and Hirvonen.
Indeed he slipped further and further back as the day went on in his Citroen C4 WRC, no doubt aware that there was no point pushing too hard, when he had no chance of getting anywhere near the top two. He ended the day a minute off the lead.
Subaru's Chris Atkinson is next up, fourth overall – 1 minute 40 seconds off Seb and 1 minute 15 seconds or so up on Stobart Ford's Henning Solberg.
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