Hirvonen leads NZ after SS2

Rally New Zealand 2012 kicked off with the 11.18km SS1. And after the Road order decisions, where Citroen and Petter Solberg opted to go for the first few places on the road. Jari-Matti Latvala chose to go last on the road. And as it turned out, it was the best place to be. The Ford man got it right.

Photo:D.Darrall

Latvala went 2.8 seconds faster than anyone on the first stage, betting Citroens Mikko Hirvonen. The earlier rain did dampen the gravel down, but due to the big amounts of gravel in the stages, there was a bit of sweeping effect. Sebastien Loeb was 3rd fastest, 3.5 off the lead. The junior drivers of Citroen’s Neuville and M-sports young gun Tanak but in a good performance. Neuville 4th fastest 8.4 off the leaders pace with Tanak 2 seconds behind. Russian driver Novikov finished 6th quickest.

It was a Disaster for the 2nd Ford Driver Petter Solberg. Almost making the same mistake as he did on the first stage in Portugal by choosing the wrong tyres, opting for hard instead of soft’s. Mini driver Dani Sordo also had problems, He too took the hard tyre, plus the Spaniard suffered GearBox problems and was 19.7 seconds off the pace.

The second stage of the rally was a classic one. The classic Whaanga coast stage. Mikko Hirvonen took the lead after Latvala dropped to 3rd after losing time on the stage. Loeb is now 2nd overall 10.9 from Hirvonen, at stage end the 8 times champ said,”forsure we needed a soft tyre in the morning. i done a good stage. everywhere wet, I think it will be ok.” Solberg on the Hard tyres struggled through the stage and dropped 39 seconds. The Norwegian very much regretting his tyre choice. At stage ended shaking his head in disappointment. Sordo, also suffering with bad tyre choice and gearbox problems came to stage end and described the conditions of the stage, “everywhere is like Rally GB – no grip – but we made the decision with the team…. We lost a lot of time.” He is 8th overall.

Photo:D.Darrall

Results after SS2 Rally NZ

1. Hirvonen

2. Loeb +10.9

3. latvala +11.5

4. Neuville +33.7

5. Tanak +40.0

6. Novikov +40.7

7. Solberg +54.3

8. Sordo +1:09.6

9. Araujo +1:21.1

10. PG Andersson 1:30.6

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