Mikko Hirvonen [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"It was quite a nervewracking day. The roads were much faster and it took a while for me to get used to that after the narrow, twisty stages yesterday. This afternoon there were ruts everywhere but I couldn't afford to ease my pace too much. The conditions were difficult and Jari-Matti drove quickly behind me. The strangest moment came this morning when I lost my rhythm after I had to slow when two deer ran across the road in front of me. I came to Japan looking for a victory but even if I achieve that tomorrow, it looks like that won't help my championship challenge now. Tomorrow's stages are soft but they shouldn't be as slippery, so I hope we have an easier time."

Jari-Matti Latvala [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT]:

"I succeeded in staying ahead of Sebastien. Maybe he drove carefully in the ruts but, if so, it made my life easier. I needed to drive fast because I didn't want Seb close to me, but equally I didn't want to put Mikko under pressure, so I followed Seb's split times in the stages. I drove cautiously through the first two stages and then stepped up my pace. I wanted to find the right balance and not risk too much, before increasing my speed when I found my confidence. This afternoon I punctured a tyre on the first stage of the loop so I drove a little more cautiously because I had only one spare in the car and another puncture would have meant the end of my rally. In these conditions the only thing to do was follow the ruts and be brave. The tactic was to keep all four wheels in the ruts, like a train track."

Sebastien Loeb [Citroen Total WRT]:

"It's no secret that I prefer competing to win. Today, though, it was necessary to keep a cool head. The forest tracks to the south of Sapporo were just as narrow as those we visited on Day 1, but they were faster, too, which means we ran a higher risk of making a mistake."

"Whenever I felt that the conditions were a little too treacherous, I didn't hesitate to brake earlier than normal. There's a great deal at stake here and I didn't want it risk throwing it all away; we just tried to stay focused on our objective which was to consolidate our third place, and I think we succeeded quite well. There is a little less than 100km of stages to come tomorrow. The goal we are aiming for is within reach, but we will need to stay concentrated until the very end."

Chris Atkinson [Subaru WRT]:

"Today was ok; we started ahead of Petter but he was a little quicker and got in front. But then he had his accident which is unlucky for the team and the Subaru fans as we were both in good positions and you never know what could happen on this rally. In stage 18, when Petter went off it left a big hole in the ground and we hit it as well and spun round. We damaged our suspension a little bit, but ok we could drive still, but not flat out. I think we are too far behind to push for third tomorrow so the main aim is to keep our position."

Matthew Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]:

"We kept our noses clean today and although it hasn't been the best of performances it has worked out perfectly and we are in a solid spot to score good points for the Stobart team. Today has been one of the toughest days of rallying I have contested in a while. The stages, especially over the second pass, were extremely rough and rutted and it took a lot to stay out of trouble and I think this is represented by how much drama happened today with several other crews. Tomorrow we will try to get back to the speed we were setting on Friday and try to stay ahead of the guys running behind us."

Toni Gardemeister [Suzuki WRT]:

"I'm very proud to have recorded Suzuki's first stage win! But the day has been tricky for us. In the morning I think we drove quite well, although the stages were so slippery and difficult that it was hard to analyse exactly what was going on. Then in the afternoon we had a problem with the rear differential. Nonetheless, we've got to the end of the day within the driver points and our aim is to try and build on that tomorrow."

Per-Gunnar Andersson [Suzuki WRT]:

"What a day! It was a real shame we had the puncture, but the roads were so rough that it was inevitable this would happen to somebody. We came into a junction nine kilometres from the start and the soft ground just pulled the tyre off the wheel rim, so I had to stop and change it. That shouldn't take anything away from what has been an extremely positive day for us though. We've been second-fastest on a stage, fifth overall, and the car has been completely reliable: that's a sign of really solid progress."

Federico Villagra [Munchi's Ford WRT]:

"It was very tough. We had some problems in SS18 [the final 'proper' test]. We missed the junction and it was very difficult to turn. The ruts were especially unbelievable in Nikara 2 [SS16]. It was difficult to keep on the line. The car went everywhere and there were jumps which were not in the notes."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "We had some handling problems. The car was definitely not progressing enough entering the corners: it started okAY but suddenly began over steering a lot. This was not encouraging especially in the first sections."

Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]:

"Following our turbo problem yesterday, we were obviously under much less pressure to obtain a top result. We began the day in 63rd place and we were able to push as hard as we saw fit, although the conditions didn't facilitate our task. Running 11th on the road, we came across a great deal of churned up mud and there was very little grip. We also tackled some of the afternoon's loop after nightfall, although that didn't prevent us from going quickly and posting some decent times. We profited from the day to try different settings, too. We intend to carry on at the same sort of pace tomorrow and perhaps try to pick up some championship points for Citro?n."

Conrad Rautenbach [PH Sport-Citroen C4 WRC]:

"As I run only a few kilometres yesterday, Rally Japan started today for me. I have nothing to do apart from discover the roads and test the car before Wales Rally GB."

Notable retirements:

Daniel Sordo [Citroen Total WRT]: [retired from day 1 in SS6 - turbo - re-started on Saturday under the SupeRally]

"Everything was going perfectly. We had settled into a good pace which was quick without us taking any risks. I was pleased with our position, but then our engine dropped power on SS6 and we were forced to stop. It's hugely disappointing but we will see with the team whether we will be able to profit from the SupeRally ruling to restart on Saturday morning."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "The stages were narrow and very slippery. It could have been easy to make a mistake and there was more to lose than we had to gain. That said, the short run gave us a chance to familiarise ourselves with the new terrain which is no easier than that found in the Obihiro region."

Francois Duval [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT]: [retired from event in SS6 - crashed out]

Francois Duval's co-driver Patrick Pivato suffered a fractured pelvis, fractured tibia and internal bleeding in the accident. See injury update for more information.

Henning Solberg [Munchi's Ford WRT]: [retired from day 2 after SS17 - suspension damage]

[Speaking after damaging his suspension in SS17] "We have a big problem..."

[Speaking in the mid-day service] "I don't understand what happened to the car. The performance of the car is deceiving like yesterday. The gearbox and the diff have already been changed and I hope we can fix the problem at service."

Petter Solberg [Subaru WRT]: [retired from day 2 after SS18 - suspension damage]

"Of course it is disappointing and I must say sorry to the Subaru fans, but we have had some very good things from today. We came round a left hander on stage 18 and hit a large hole and the car just spun around. I went to start again but the rear geometry was all broken. We were pushing hard and sometimes things like this happen. It's disappointing, but honestly it has been a very good day. It was really good fun to drive and I really enjoyed it, and to win a stage is very good. We are definitely going in the right direction. We must look at the positives as there has been a lot good about today."

Team principals:

Malcolm Wilson [BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT - team director]:

"It was a very controlled performance from both drivers, dictating the pace from the front. Both delivered measured drives, especially in such difficult conditions on the stages."

Olivier Quesnel [Citroen Total WRT - team principal]:

"Both crews accomplished the missions they were given. S?bastien and Daniel reinforced their position without taking any risks, and they now have a cushion of more than a minute and a half over the crew in fourth place. As for Dani and Marc, they succeeded in making the most of the free rein they were given to showcase the competitiveness of the C4 over this sort of terrain. I'm glad that today's 156km of stages are over. There are still 96.43km to come, however, and I have to admit that I can't wait for them to be behind us, too."

David Richards [Subaru WRT - managing director]:

"Again Rally Japan has proved unforgiving, and of course it is disappointing for everyone that Petter has retired, but overall there have been a lot of positives today. Chris and St?phane are in a solid fourth place, and Petter's stage win clearly shows the potential of the new Impreza. Our recent testing efforts have focused on our gravel performance, and the benefit of this is beginning to show."

Malcolm Wilson [Stobart VK M-Sport Ford WRT - team boss]:

"It is good to see Matthew has improved on his overnight position. He struggled a little bit today to get to grips with the rough conditions on the longest day of the rally, but managed to stay out of trouble and this has paid off as he now lies in fifth position with one day remaining. It is looking like he will be involved in an exciting battle tomorrow with a few more experienced drivers so hopefully he will be able to hang onto fifth spot and score some strong points for the Stobart team."

Shusuke Inagaki [Suzuki WRT - team director]:

"Considering that we have not yet even completed one full season of the championship, this event has gone very well for us so far. To be in the top eight is a great achievement, and we are very proud that our car has shown both performance and reliability. Tomorrow is another long day, so we need to stay fully concentrated all the way to the finish."



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