17 November 2007
Ireland - leg 2: Loeb in command.
Further down the order, Guy Wilks continues to go extremely well in his privately entered Subaru Impreza and is currently in P6. The Englishman set top ten times in all but one stage today, to add to the eight he managed on leg 1. The Brit is currently on course to score his first ever 'senior' WRC points and with a big gap to Petter in front in fifth and an equally big gap back to seventh, he now just needs to keep it on the road and bring his car home.
Fellow countryman, Matthew Wilson is also on course to get some points. Wilson Jr finished the day seventh overall, while Gareth MacHale rounds out the provisional points' scorers' in eighth, also in a Ford Focus RS WRC.
Of the rest, Andreas Mikkelsen is ninth, while Armindo Araujo completes the top ten in his Mitsubishi Evo.
Araujo inherited the lead in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship category in the final stage, when Mark Higgins rolled out. Higgins, who needed to win to keep his hopes of taking the PWRC crown alive, had led practically throughout and was more than 30 seconds up on Araujo prior to his off.
Niall McShea is second in the PWRC category, 26.4 seconds off the lead, with Gabriel Pozzo third, Nasser Al-Attiyah fourth and Simone Campedelli fifth. Pozzo is now the only man between Toshi Arai and his second PWRC title. Pozzo needs to finish at least second though to remain in the running. Arai is not competing this weekend in Ireland, as he has already taken in his six nominated events.
In terms of retirees, in addition to Higgins, Andrew Nesbitt and Tim McNulty both went out this morning, the former going off the road, while the latter had mechanical problems.
Manfred Stohl also went out in his OMV Kronos Citroen Xsara WRC. Stohl lost over 6 minutes this morning in SS11, dropping him from 7th to 15th. He then went off the road again though in SS13, but this time could not continue. It is not yet known if the Austrian will be able to re-start on Sunday under the SupeRally.
Stohl now joins fellow 'works' drivers' Marcus Gronholm and Xavier Pons on the sidelines, both having gone out on day 1 in SS4.
Henning Solberg also went off on Friday, but he re-started this morning under the SupeRally. He is currently running in 20th place. Chris Atkinson is also still going in the #2 Subaru WRT car - but he is 5 minutes further back, in 28th position, after he lost around 20 minutes yesterday in Lough Gill 1.
The action now continues on Sunday - just four stages and 55.91 competitive kilometres remain. SS17 - the 24.70 kilometre-run through Murley, starts at 09.03 hours local time.
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