Wet and slippery conditions in NZ
- 18th November 2006, 7:30pm
BP-Ford World Rally Team drivers Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen top the leader board at the end of a wet and slippery Leg 2 in Propecia Rally New Zealand. Whilst many drivers struggled with poor tyre choice and lack of grip, the Ford pair took it all in their stride and finished a tough day's rallying comfortably holding down first and second places.
After dicing with the Citroen Xsara of Dani Sordo throughout the day, Manfred Stohl finished the day in third place despite complaining his tyres were too hard. Sordo and team-mate Xevi Pons, rounded out the top five today.
Despite celebrating his 32nd birthday today, Petter Solberg again struggled in his Subaru. A broken driveshaft on the morning's stages led to transmission problems, and he then suffered a puncture. Solberg's team-mate Chris Atkinson, was forced to retire on SS9 after his Subaru got stuck while changing a puncture. It was more bad luck for Atkinson who had set fastest times on both SS7 and SS8.
Henning Solberg arrived at the Mystery Creek Super Special Stage with his windscreen and co-drivers side window missing, but he still managed to thrill the crowd with third fastest time for the stage.
Valentino Rossi continues to impress in only his second rally, climbing up to 14th outright by the end of Leg 2. The wet roads obviously suited Rossi, who increased his speed and commitment throughout the day, and he proved to the crowd at Mystery Creek that he is no slouch behind the steering wheel.
In the PWRC, Jari-Matti Lavala leads, whilst Fumio Natahara rolled and is now out of the rally. Richard Mason is the leading New Zealander (in 11th), whilst Chris West and Emma Gilmour both retired on SS8.
The rally concludes tomorrow (Sunday) after stages in the Raglan and Whaanga Coast area.
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