What an exciting first half to day 2!
First thing that happened was Gilles Panizzi crashing out of the rally on Stage 9, with a number of other competitors going off or spinning. Markko Martin lost a minute when he stopped to report Panizzi's accident and give aid, but the stage was later cancelled and the cars that completed the stage given a nominal time. Martin therefore did not lose the minute on his overall time.
Panizzi slid off the road and hit a pole with the left hand side of his car, and was taken to hospital with a suspected broken arm. His brother, co-driver Herve, who was not injured in the accident, accompanied him.
Mitsubishi goes home with all their WRC cars very broken - Dani Sola intruduces the Lancer to a tree
Stage 10 was therefore the first competitive stage of the day, and the two Ford drivers were immediately out to make up what they had lost on day one. Duval and Martin gave Ford a one two for the stage, while the Citroens managed 4th and 5th.
Martin then won stage 11 from Freddy Loiz in a Peugeot 307. Solberg was third, not that it would mean much in the short future, and Gronholm was fourth, although as he retired from day one, the rally is just a test session for him now, due to the new rules allowing teams to re-enter the car in the next days racing. Duval was fifth, still ahead of both Citroens who finished 6th and 8th.
Stage 12 was started, but despite the tricky conditions both Markko Martin and Francois Duval completed the stage with the two fastest times. However, Petter Solberg crashed heavily in his Subaru Impreza, and the stage was cancelled. Both Citroens were stuck at the beginning of the stage, and officials are determining how to decide nominal times for them in light of the fact that some cars had already completed the stage.
Francois Duval right on the heels of the Citroens, awaiting the stewards decision on Stage 12 to know if he has taken second place yet
On stage 12, the Stewards gave both the Citroens the same time as stage winner Markko Martin despite the fact that Duval had a time 13 seconds behind Martin, completely wiping the gains he had made in the morning. Nevertheless he pressed on to take second on the last stage of the day but the decision may have put Duval out of contention for the win.
1. Loeb - Citroen
2. Duval - Ford +54.7
3. Sainz - Citroen +1.00.4
4. Martin - Ford +2.24.1
5. Robert - Peugeot +3.33.6
6. Loiz - Peugeot +3.46.2
7. Gardemeister - Skoda +4.10.90
8. Sarrazin - Subaru (privateer) +5.07.3
One day with seven stages remaining! In the extreme wet weather, the battle is on to stay on the road.
Markko Martin (Ford)
"Water was running down the roads and the car was aquaplaning. Apart from the last stage when I hit mud and slid into a field, I stayed on the road but I was lucky. We must nominate our tyres so early that conditions can change and the rules banning gravel crews mean we have no idea what conditions will be like. Tyre choice is a gamble and I will be happy if I can just see the end of every stage today."
"The stages were difficult and we had a couple of lucky escapes," he said. "I hit a mound of grass on stage 13 and damaged the rear left of the car. Then on the last stage of the group I slid off the road and hit some trees, again with the rear left. We were lucky to escape the second incident."
Pictures and information from rally-live.com and wrc.com