Day 2: Team by team

All the factory nominated drivers are still running at the end of leg two in Sweden, but every team endured some kind of dramatic tribulation during Saturday's stages. While Subaru and Peugeot fight for the lead, Citroen are fighting to keep Sebastien Loeb in the event. Autosport's rallies editor David Evans rounds up the latest from the service area

Day 2: Team by team

Reigning world champion Sebastien Loeb slipped back from the cut and thrust of the fight for the win through leg two. He ran without mechanical trouble in the Xsara, but a minor off on the ninth stage - dropping him about four seconds - typified a day where the Frenchman couldn't quite get to grips with the lead battle. The one place where he could do no wrong was Sundsjon, fastest through the stage both times. A potential engine problem arose in the final moments of the day, threatening his further participation in the rally. Three punctures on the middle loop cost Francois Duval dearly. He stopped to change in SS11, at the cost of five minutes. Not a great day for the Belgian.

Toni Gardemeister's hopes of making serious inroads on the men ahead were knocked back on the first stage this morning. Third quickest at the first split, it all came to nought when he spun the Focus a couple of miles later. The back end of the car bounced off a bank, squashing the exhaust and limiting the car's power. By the end of leg two, he had the second points-scoring Focus - that of Henning Solberg - just 3.2s behind him in sixth spot. That third and final leg is going to be a fascinating one for the Ford team. Let's just hope team principal Malcolm Wilson lets them get on with it.

Petter Solberg stepped his pace up a notch, but promised there was still a little gas left in the tank. That's got to be questionable through Vergasen, a test which clearly suits the Solberg, Subaru and Pirelli package. He was on fire through the two runs at the stage. Nobody could touch him, but the man himself couldn't really see what all the fuss was about. Those two stages formed the basis of a 12s advantage ahead of the final leg. Chris Atkinson's fight back from his first-stage off continued with the Australian driver making the top ten, posting some amazing times along the way.

Two runs through the Vergasen test ruined Marcus Gronholm's day. He dropped 18s on the brace of stages and would spend the rest of the leg fighting like mad to claw the time back. He much preferred the middle loop of stages, which contained more snow and were reminiscent of what the Swedish used to be like. Markko Martin was much happier today. He'd found a set-up he was happy with on the differential front and was making inroads towards a fastest time. Then a heavy landing on the tenth stage damaged the gearbox and left him with no differentials for SS11. He was lucky to make it back to service.

After the storm came the calm at Mitsubishi. Day one brought Gigi Galli's fastest time and plenty to cheer about for the Rugby-based team. Saturday still offered plenty to be cheerful about, but without the ultimate high of a fastest time. Galli pointedly talked of getting to the finish and getting mileage under his belt. The shine was taken off his day with a broken driveshaft on SS13, which dropped him one minute and four places on the leaderboard. Harri Rovanpera was happier with his car's set-up, having altered the roll bars overnight. The times improved, but the Finn admitted he still hadn't found the 'whole answer.'

Mattias Ekstrom's place inside the top ten was lost when the DTM champion suffered power steering failure on his Fabia WRC. He dropped almost four minutes on the final loop of stages and will now find scant reward for a workmanlike and consistent drive over the first two days. Janne Tuohino and Jani Paasonen were now the Skoda standard bearers, but after suffering problems on leg one, neither looked like threatening the lead runners.

Petter Solberg (Subaru Impreza) 2h14m27.9s
Marcus Gronholm (Peugeot 307) 2h14m40.5s
Sebastien Loeb (Citroen Xsara) 2h15m02.2s
Markko Martin (Peugeot 307) 2h16m33.7s
Toni Gardemeister (Ford Focus) 2h17m46.5s
Henning Solberg (Ford Focus) 2h17m49.7s
Harri Rovanpera (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2h17m50.6s
Gigi Galli (Mitsubishi Lancer) 2h18m03.5s
Daniel Carlsson (Peugeot 307) 2h18m16.8s
Chris Atkinson (Subaru Impreza) 2h18m19.7s

Janne Tuohino (Skoda Fabia) 2h18m27.9s
Roman Kresta (Ford Focus) 2h18m43.2s
Jani Paasonen (Skoda Fabia) 2h18m57.7s
Anthony Warmbold (Ford Focus) 2h20m16.4s
Francois Duval (Citroen Xsara) 2h20m42.4s
Mattias Ekstrom (Skoda Fabia) 2h21m22.1s
Stephane Sarrazin (Subaru Impreza) 2h21m24.2s

Day 2: Solberg pulls away

Previous article

Day 2: Solberg pulls away

Next article

Ekstrom hobbled by steering

Ekstrom hobbled by steering
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

Sep 2, 2021