Subaru: Rally France, 12–14 October 2007
72 of the original 74 crews left the service park this morning for leg two.

Today’s leg saw competitors pass through Ajaccio a total of five times, travelling north east from the service park for SS7 / SS10, before returning to Ajaccio and heading north for the remainder of the six stages. Leg two included the shortest stage of the rally, Vico – Col St Roch at 13.04km. Coupled with SS2 / SS5 they are the only stages under 21km in distance. Due to the large liaison distance of 318.72km, there were two remote refuels.

Sections of SS7 were damp during the first pass this morning but dried quickly before the stage had been completed. It remained fine and dry for the rest of the day, with temperatures ranging from 10 degrees Celsius to a high of 31 degrees Celsius.

Bernardi (Suzuki); Duval (Citroen)

Subaru World Rally Team summary
The three Impreza WRC2007s of the Subaru World Rally Team remain within the top seven in the overall standings after today’s six stages. Petter was fifth after a hard–fought battle with Jari Matti Latvala, and Chris and Xevi came home sixth and seventh.

Petter started leg two 3.3 seconds ahead of Latvala, extending this after a good run on the day’s opener. Stage eight brought the whole field grip challenges over the long and twisty route, and Petter, feeling uncomfortable for the last 10km, ended the stage slipping just behind Latvala. The gap came down to just 1.3s between the two before some difficulties in the latter half of SS10 meant he slipped off the pace of the Finn. Having made some changes before SS11, Petter felt more confident in the car on the second pass of this section, setting the fifth fastest time. He continued this good form to set the third fastest time on the final stage of the day, but adjustments were made in final service to try find that little bit extra for the final leg.

Chris Atkinson used the morning’s first stage to develop his confidence in the car after not feeling comfortable yesterday. He had a fantastic stage nine, the last of the morning loop, recording the third fastest time just behind Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb. The surface being looser on this stage, Chris felt far more comfortable with the handling and balance of his Impreza – something which he carried into the afternoon loop with a string of top six stage times to secure his solid points–scoring position going into the third and final leg tomorrow.

Xevi Pons had a great start to leg two on the tricky SS7 this morning, finishing the opening stage sixth fastest. He was more confident on the tight and twisty routes of leg two that are more typical of Corsica than those experienced yesterday, and felt happier with his performance and the balance of his car. Despite clipping a stone with his front tyre and suffering a puncture on SS8 which lead to a vibration from the front of the car, the Spaniard pushed on to increase the gap to Jan Kopecky steadily throughout the day. Happy with his day, he will use tomorrow to consolidate his overall points–paying position.

Subaru World Rally Team Managing Director Richard Taylor:
"Petter and Chris have each achieved a top–three time today but overall we are still struggling to achieve the pace we expected following our recent test. All three cars however are still in points– scoring positions and Petter is close enough to try and fight for fourth place on the final day."

Petter Solberg:
"Today I was trying my best and doing all I could, but I wasn’t happy with the balance of the car early on. We had a close battle with Latvala this morning but couldn’t maintain our pace this afternoon. I made some changes which I felt made the car better, and we finished third fastest on the final stage which was a good step forwards. The car is better, and we will make some more changes before tomorrow to try and improve it again for the last four stages."

Chris Atkinson:
"At the moment I definitely feel more confident on the stages that aren’t totally flat and smooth. SS9 / SS12 suited us much better today and I was able to get that good feeling again and really push. What we really need to work on is getting the feeling like that on the smooth sections as well, as currently it’s not quite there. It’s going to be hard to catch anyone ahead, but we will try and see what we can do."

Xevi Pons:
"This afternoon the stages were tricky as there was a lot of gravel and sand on the surface after the first pass. I am happy with the car today though; it has good balance and we haven’t made changes to the setup all day. I concentrated on my driving style in the slow corners this morning and I feel I have improved a lot, and that is where our improved pace has come from. I think there is still more to come, but for now I am happy with our pace and position."

Tomorrow’s Leg
Leg three comprises only four stages but covers a total of 112.10km, including the longest stage of the rally. Pont de Calzola – Agosta is a distance of 31.81km, and run as SS14 / SS16 the second pass is the final stage of Rallye de France. All tomorrow’s competition will be based between the port towns of Ajaccio and Propriano.

Leg 2 Leaderboard
1. S Loeb/D Elena 2h 20m 58.6sec
2. M Gronholm/T Rautiainen +27.5sec
3. D Sordo/M Marti +1m00.6sec
4. J–M Latvala/M Anttila +2m23.9sec
5. P Solberg/P Mills +2m30.9sec
6. C Atkinson/S Prevot +2m49.3sec
7. X Pons/X Amigo +4m08.2sec
8. J Kopecky/F Schovanek +5m52.9sec
9. H Solberg/C Menkerud +7m07.6sec
10. A Mikkelsen/O Floene +7m56.1sec

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