Japan - leg 2: Mikko closes on second win of year.

Manfred Stohl rounds out the top six in his OMV Kronos-run Citroen Xsara WRC, having lost ground and dropped behind Companc and Wilson following mechanical problems in SS14.

Further down the order, Munchi's #2 driver Federico Villagra looks set to get two points, while Katsuhiko Taguchi is eighth and on course not only to take the Group N win, but the final 'senior' WRC point too.

Of the rest, Loeb and Latvala weren't the only two 'works' drivers to have problems, as Xavier Pons also went off the road. The Spaniard lost it in SS12 and beached his Impreza WRC car. Although the car was undamaged he couldn't continue.

Pons' exit meant only Petter Solberg remained to fly the flag for the Subaru World Rally team on its home event. Despite being well down the order though after gear selection problems put him out on day 1, 'Hollywood' set some very competitive times - including taking four stage wins. He hauled himself up from 64th place to 24th by the end of the leg.

Chris Atkinson and Marcus Gronholm both retired on Friday too, like Petter, however they were not able to restart as their cars were too badly damaged. Gronholm damaged his roll cage in his off in SS4, while Atkinson had quite a sizeable off in SS6.

In the FIA Production Car WRC category, Gabriel Pozzo leads by more than 1.5 minutes after Fumio Nutahara had problems this morning.

Takuma Kamada heads the chasing pack, with Leszek Kuzaj third followed by Armindo Araujo, Evgeniy Vertunov and Mark Higgins.

Runaway PWRC championship leader, Toshi Arai ended the day outside of the PWRC points in 12th after his problems on day 1 in SS7.

The action now resumes on Sunday - seven more stages lay in wait, totally around 97 competitive kilometres.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), BP Ford Focus RS WRC 06. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Daniel Sordo (ESP) / Marc Marti (ESP), Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Henning Solberg (NOR) / Cato Menkerud (NOR), Stobart Ford Focus WRC 06. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Sebastien Ogier collects his WRC champion`s trophy at the FIA Prizegiving in Doha
Sebastien Ogier and VW celebrate at the FIA Prizegiving
Robert Kubica at the Monza Rally Show
Ford Olsbergs MSE celebrates winning the RX Teams` Championship
Liam Doran
Teams line up for FIA World Rallycross
Teams line up for FIA World Rallycross
Nasser Al-Attiyah - Mini ALL4 Racing
Jari Ketomaa (FIN) Kaj Lindstrom (FIN), Ford Fiesta R5, WRC2 winners

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