Fifty-five of the original 69 starters left Perth this morning for the second, and longest, leg of this penultimate round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Cloudy but dry conditions greeted competitors as they headed east from the rally base in Perth for 10 more gravel speed tests before a third and final run at the city’s Langley Park stage.

The day’s opening three special stages offered everything. Fast and flowing roads contrasted with twisty, narrow tracks, enclosed pine plantations were mixed with wide open countryside and the surface varied from gravel and clay to sand and asphalt.

Carlos Sainz and Luis Moya continued to head Ford Rallye Sport’s challenge, although the Spanish duo slipped behind Harri Rovanperä on the second of the morning’s three speed tests to hold fourth in their Focus RS World Rally Car. “We made a poor tyre choice, choosing a compound that was too hard, but we’re still in a good position,” said Sainz. “We had to slow for a small tree that had fallen into the road but all the other drivers had the same problem.”

Team-mates Colin McRae and Derek Ringer remain sixth, the Scots upping their pace through the morning tests. Sixth quickest on the opening 9.56km Kev’s, McRae was fourth through both the 26.46km Beraking and the 18.43km Helena South. “It all feels better today,” said McRae. “The pace notes are flowing nicely and the stages today and tomorrow are easier than yesterday’s so that helps. I’d like to get ahead of Tommi Mäkinen and I think that’s possible because my confidence is higher.”

Markko Märtin and Michael Park continue to hold seventh in their Focus RS, 16.2sec ahead of the fourth Focus RS of Francois Duval and Jean-Marc Fortin. “The road surface is very mixed, generally much narrower and looser than yesterday,” said Märtin. “You have to know the roads or be very confident in the pace notes to drive flat out and I don’t want to take any risks. We’re fine-tuning our notes as we go and even if I speed up, the time gap to Colin ahead of us means I’m unlikely to catch him.”

Duval lost time after slowing in Kev’s when he hit a rock and thought he had punctured a tyre. However, the Pirelli rubber withstood the impact.

Leaderboard After Stage 12

1. M Grönholm/T Rautiainen FIN Peugeot 206 1hr 48min 33.7sec
2. P Solberg/P Mills N Subaru Impreza 1hr 49min 03.7sec
3. H Rovanperä/R Pietilainen FIN Peugeot 206 1hr 49min 24.2sec
4. C Sainz/L Moya E Ford Focus RS 1hr 49min 33.8sec
5. T Mäkinen/K Lindström FIN Subaru Impreza 1hr 49min 56.5sec
6. C McRae/D Ringer GB Ford Focus RS 1hr 50min 16.8sec
7. M Märtin/M Park EE Ford Focus RS 1hr 51min 06.4sec
8. F Duval/J-M Fortin B Ford Focus RS 1hr 51min 22.6sec
9. T Gardemeister/P Lukander FIN Skoda Octavia 1hr 51min 58.8sec
10 S Loeb/D Elena F Citroen Xsara 1hr 52min 36.6sec

Published : 02/11/02 Author : Melanie Carter

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