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Finns on a mission in Australia
Australia : Leg 2 - Summary
After the dramatic start to Telstra Rally Australia it was a quiet drive in the countryside for the drivers contesting Leg Two of the final World Rally Championship event being held in Perth today. BP Ford World Rally Team's Mikko Hirvonen held
onto the rally lead all day, while team mate Marcus Gronholm desperately climbed up the leaderboard.

Hirvonen started the day with a 28.2 second lead over Subaru World Rally Team's Petter Solberg. The running order dictated that Hirvonen ran after Solberg on the stages today so Hirvonen was able to pace his driving to keep the Norwegian at bay.

OMV Peugeot Norway's Manfred Stohl moved into third outright on stage 13, relegating Kronos Total Citroen's Xevi Pons to fourth. The most dramatic fall from grace today was that of Western Australian Dean Herridge. He dropped from fifth outright to ninth despite trying hard against the more experienced P-WRC regulars. Herridge's attack was greatly weakened when he lost fifth gear on SS18, in the final country stage of the day.

The biggest leap today was made by the Flying Finn Marcus Gronholm, who needs to finish third or higher to keep his championship hopes alive. He started the day in 18th outright and climbed up to an amazing seventh after claiming four stage wins as well as times within the top three on all of today's stages.

It was all change in the PCWRC, with Toshi Arai seizing Dean Herridge's lead in the opening stage of the day, and Marcos Ligato passing the Australian on the leaderboard two stages later. On the next stage it was the turn of Finn Jari Matti Latvala to push ahead while fellow Finn Aki Teiskonen followed suit on SS16. The PCWRC drivers revelled in the Australian stages, saying they were pushing hard on the fast roads which had been a contrast to their last event in the tough slow stages of Turkey.

The PCWRC leaderboard turned again on SS17 when Toshi Arai rolled his Subaru, handing the lead to Marcos Ligato with Latvala and Teiskonen forming a Finnish two-three.

The rally action continues tomorrow with the running of six stages around Mundaring, a service in the city of Perth, and a podium finish against the river and city skyline.
Press release Telstra Rally Australia

     The end of a long & exciting day
     Encouraging performance by Subaru in Australia
     Hirvonen leads for Ford after dramatic opening
     Positive day for Manfred Stohl
     Tough opening leg for Stobart Team
     Yassen and Dilyan Popov avoid engine failure
     Xevi Pons : mission podium !
     Eventful morning
     Gronholm leads Ford one-two in Australia
     Yassen and Dilyan Popov complete faultless shakedown

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