Day 2: Team by team

After the tranquility of leg one it was perhaps inevitable that the second day of the Monte Carlo Rally would bring some fireworks. So it proved, with stages six and seven both truncated by violent accidents for works WRC stars and the Citroen, Skoda and Subaru teams all suffering a retirement each

Day 2: Team by team

Autosport's rallies editor David Evans was in the service park to get the inside story on a typically tumultuous day in Monte Carlo.


The possibility of a dream one-two finish for the French team went out of the window when Francois Duval understeered off the road and into an electricity pylon at the end of the sixth stage. Unfortunately his crash spoiled the chances of Loeb further extending his advantage, as the pylon fell down and blocked the path of the reigning world champion forcing him to take a notional time. Loeb couldn't find much to complain about however - ending the leg with a healthy lead over Gronholm.


Toni Gardemeister and Roman Kresta continued to flatten the learning curve aboard their respective Focus RS WRC04s. Gardemeister admitted he was pushing closer and closer to the limit, but he added that he had no intention of going over it. His car ran without fault throughout the day and the Finn was delighted to move into a podium position, although he was coming under increasing pressure from Solberg. Kresta took a tyre too soft for the conditions on SS6, that aside his day was trouble-free.


With the brake problems sorted out, the Subaru team was looking forward to a stronger showing from Petter Solberg and Stephane Sarrazin. Solberg delivered a solid day's driving, even managing a fastest time on the seventh stage to narrow the gap to Gardemeister. For ex-Formula 1 racer Sarrazin, however, his first Monte Carlo Saturday was one to forget. He started it with a time consuming spin on SS5 and finished it one stage later when he outbraked himself, clipped a barrier and damaged the steering. He missed the final three stages of the day and starts again tomorrow with a 20-minute penalty.


Gronholm's chances of maintaining a podium position were helped no end when Duval went out and promoted the Finn to second place. It was a trouble-free day for both 307 WRCs, but Gronholm looked more comfortable behind the wheel. Martin admitted he was still getting used to the car - and, obviously, the tyres. The Estonian was still working out where to place the Peugeot on the road, pointing out that it is the widest WRC he's ever driven. The narrow, twisty run into Les Sausses on stages seven and nine were particularly interesting.


Gilles Panizzi's surprise fastest stage time on SS8 was the first time a Mitsubishi Lancer driver had achieved the feat in the WRC since Jani Paasonen's effort on the 2002 Rally of New Zealand. Both Mitsubishi drivers' only serious gripe through the day was that their new HANS (Head and Neck Support) devices weren't fitting them properly. Panizzi and Harri Rovanpera were both distracted in the middle of the stage by the new safety system. Panizzi elected not to use the semi-automatic gearshift on his car, concerned about its reliability. Rovanpera's priority was to get as many stage miles under his belt as possible - and that was reflected in his times.


Alex Bengue scored his first fastest time on the sixth stage, and came within a second of doing it again on SS8. He blotted his copybook on the day's ninth and final stage, however, when he damaged a rear wheel. His team-mate Armin Schwarz rolled out of the rally on stage seven. He was flown to Nice hospital suffering from a shoulder injury, but released after X-rays.

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Day 2: Loeb unstoppable
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