Day 2: Loeb edges clear of Solberg

Sebastien Loeb and Petter Solberg engaged in an all-out war on the second day of Rally Australia, setting the first and second fastest time on all eight of the day's stages as they battled for the lead of the rally. With just two runs over the short Perth Superspecial left to run today (Saturday), Loeb has edged out a 5.4s lead over his Norwegian rival

Day 2: Loeb edges clear of Solberg

Solberg drew first blood on the afternoon's stages, taking 1.2s out of Loeb's lead on SS15, but the Frenchman redressed the balance by taking SS16, increasing his lead to 2.7s - exactly what it had been before the day started.

The Citroen ace then ramped up the pressure on Solberg with wins on SS17 and SS18 to build the gap to over five seconds. Although this might not sound substantial, it represents the biggest lead that Loeb has enjoyed over Solberg since Marcus Gonholm's crash promoted him to first.

"It's not a big lead, but it's a little bit more than this morning," said Loeb. "I've made no mistakes, and we have to continue that tomorrow. Sometimes it's going a little too fast, but for sure it's a pleasure in the car. We both can win, so we must push."

Solberg is confident of a strong push on the final day. He said: "[The lead's] just 1.5sec bigger than it was this morning. It shouldn't be any problem. I've got a good feeling. Tomorrow there are long stages and it's the most important day of the rally. I'm happy with second - I'm in a hunting position."

The fight between the leading duo has left all the other runners standing. Richard Burns continues to occupy third, but he has dropped back further and is now 1m24.6s off the lead. However, with Gronholm out of the event, Burns' consistent approach looks set to pay dividends once again.

"It may look from outside like I'm playing safe," said Burns. "I'm trying just as hard as those guys, Petter and Sebastien. The thing is to get as many points as possible. We've got to keep on this track to the end of the year."

The fight for fourth has proven almost as entertaining as the battle for the lead. Markko Martin set the third fastest time on three of the day's four stages to seize the position from Tommi Makinen.

With his brake troubles now well and truly sorted, Colin McRae put in a charge, and passed both Citroen team-mate Carlos Sainz and Makinen on the afternoon's stage to claim fifth. However, he is far from comfortable in the position, as the four-time world champion is only 1.4s behind, with Sainz a further 5.1s back.

Harri Rovanpera continues to run eighth, with Freddy Loix and Francois Duval rounding out the top ten.

The final two stages of the day take place on the short Perth Superspecial stage.

shares
comments
Day 2am: Loeb fends off Solberg

Previous article

Day 2am: Loeb fends off Solberg

Next article

SS19 and 20: Martin doubles up

SS19 and 20: Martin doubles up
Load comments
How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia Plus

How Finland’s newest rally hero made WRC history in Estonia

Kalle Rovanpera broke a decade-old record in becoming the World Rally Championship's youngest-ever winner in a truly dominant performance on Estonia's fast gravel roads. Staving off the challenge of Hyundai's Craig Breen, his committed drive showed a maturity beyond his 20 years that gives Toyota's post-Ogier era a far brighter complexion

WRC
Jul 19, 2021
How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale Plus

How WRC's new Safari adventure ended with a familiar tale

The World Rally Championship’s delayed return to the Safari Rally was always set throw up some surprises, but aside from a spirited showing by Thierry Neuville it became another painful event for Hyundai in 2021. Once again it was Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage as he completed a stunning comeback drive

WRC
Jun 28, 2021
Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win Plus

Remembering Colin McRae’s final WRC win

The Safari Rally returns to the World Rally Championship this weekend for the first time since 2002 - when crowd favourite Colin McRae set aside the maximum attack style for which he was renowned to deliver a textbook third win

WRC
Jun 23, 2021
How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2 Plus

How Hyundai's broken record gave Toyota a special Sardinia 1-2

For the second WRC gravel rally in a row, a promising Friday for Hyundai turned into desolation as Toyota gratefully picked up the pieces. This time it was championship leader Sebastien Ogier who took full advantage after Ott Tanak and Dani Sordo retired to score a memorable victory, having swept the road on the first two days

WRC
Jun 7, 2021
How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory Plus

How Hyundai's latest self-destruction handed Evans Portugal victory

At one point Hyundai held the top three positions in Portugal, but when trouble struck the Korean marque's two leading chargers, a grateful Elfyn Evans was on hand to see off Hyundai third man Dani Sordo and become the third different winner in four rallies

WRC
May 24, 2021
Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages Plus

Why the success of AVB's WRC debut won't be defined on the stages

Three years after a Dakar Rally crash resulted in him being airlifted to hospital, Andre Villas-Boas is preparing to make his debut on his home round of the World Rally Championship later this month. His goals for the event are modest, but the same cannot be said for the charities he plans to promote where his true impact could be felt

WRC
May 13, 2021
Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel Plus

Why there's no easy fix for Hyundai's operational Achilles Heel

Hyundai Motorsport boss Andrea Adamo was vocal in his criticism of his team's tyre choices on Rally Croatia and declared that he "had better move my ass and solve it". Doing so will be vital to getting Hyundai's 2021 WRC title hopes back on track, but finding the root of the problem won't be the work of a moment

WRC
Apr 28, 2021
How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia Plus

How Ogier held on after a shock bump in the road to triumph in Croatia

Sebastien Ogier was already in an incredibly tight fight at Rally Croatia before a surprise collision with public road traffic at the start of the final day. But the defending champion held his nerve to take a narrow victory and create further World Rally Championship history

WRC
Apr 26, 2021