Gronholm crashes out, Loeb takes lead
- 5th April 2009, 8:10am
Marcus Gronholm's return to the WRC ended with disappointment after the Finn rolled his Prodrive Subaru Impreza while in fourth place, whilst at the end of Leg 2, a familiar name sits atop the leaderboard.
Gronholm had gone into the rally's second day in fourth overall but, on the first stage, about 4 km from the start, the car ran wide on a left hand bend and the rear clipped a tree, causing the car to a roll. The car ended up off the road but on its wheels. Gronholm was able to restart the car and to continue along the stage. However, as he was pulling over to let Petter Solberg pass, an engine warning light came on. Gronholm stopped the car and the team advised him not to continue.
Gronholm said on his website, "â€œItâ€™s disappointing for me and for the team because we wanted a nice result from here. I have not been rallying for a long time and coming back starting behind Seb and trying to do the same time in a new car, is not so easy. We were on the pace yesterday and pushing today and I made a small mistake.â€
Reigning World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, continued his dominance of the sport, taking the rally lead in SS9 from Mikko Hirvonen. The Citroen driver set a blistering time on the stage to be ahead by 1.9 seconds, but by the end of the day had increased this to 26 seconds. Hirvonen fought hard throughout the day to stay in touch, and managed to stay within ten seconds of Loeb until the last two stages of the day.
Loeb's Citroen team-mate, Dani Sordo, holds third position, with Petter Solberg in fourth place and young Briton, Matthew Wilson in fifth.
Sunday's Leg 3 entails five more stages over 79km.
Rally Portugal - Leaderboard after Day 2
1. S Loeb/D Elena FRA Citroen C4 2hr 56min 15.6sec
2. M Hirvonen/J Lehtinen FIN Ford Focus RS 2hr 56min 42.4sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti ESP Citroen C4 2hr 57min 12.0sec
4. P Solberg/P Mills NOR Citroen Xsara 2hr 58min 15.2sec
5. M Wilson/S Martin GBR Ford Focus RS 2hr 59min 38.5sec
6. H Solberg/C Menkerud NOR Ford Focus RS 2hr 59min 39.4sec
7. E Novikov/D Moscatt RUS Citroen C4 3hr 01min 15.0sec
8. M Ã˜stberg/O Unnerud NOR Subaru Impreza 3hr 01min 15.8sec
9. C Rautenbach/D Barritt ZIM Citroen C4 3hr 03min 06.2sec
10 F Villagra/J Perez Companc ARG Ford Focus RS 3hr 05min 50.7sec
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