Manfred Stohl continues enjoying his comeback to the FIA World Rally Championship as he was able to make his way through a tricky second leg in the Rally of New Zealand. The Austrian driver, whose navigator is Ilka Minor, held the 11th position in the overall classification on board the Ford Fiesta WRC entered under the Brazil World Rally Team.
It was mostly sunny in Whangarei and Kai para districts, where the second day of action of this seventh round took place today. Indeed, it was in the Northland region were drivers found the best weather possible for rallying during the morning.
Although drier conditions prevailed today, there were still many damp areas and wet patches all over the stages which increased the difficulty, especially after the rain in the penultimate stage.
This leg also featured hard-packed roads with lots of loose gravel and the drivers had to take a gamble on the tyre choice once again. “I only had hard tyres left so we had no options. I think the soft compound would have been the best choice if we had had any left” expressed Manfred.
Manfred started th e day 30.2s off Ken Block’s Ford Fiesta which was placed in the tenth position, but he decided not to go after the North American driver and keep his car safely on the road. “I really didn’t want to push too much because there was no point in crashing the car. I am getting used to the car, I am enjoying every meter of this rally and I want to finish it” said Manfred.
Tomorrow, Manfred will have the opportunity to crown his comeback with his first Championship points in more than four years. If he is able to complete the rally, he will also give BWRT more Manufacturer’s points.
Tomorrow’s route. The final day will take drivers just to the North of Auckland and into a new scenery since these roads have not been used since the 1990s. It comprises three stages to be run twice -including two passes over a short asphalt test at the Auckland Domain park-, and the final Power Stage, which offers bonus points to the first fastest three drivers. There will be seven stages in total which will cover 61.33km.
Stages times – Day 2
SS9 Batley (17.61km) | 12º) +36.2s / 11º overall
SS10 Brother Mititai 1 (23.22km) | 12º) +32.7s / 11º overall
SS11 Girls High School 1 (26.99km) | 12º) +37.6s / 11º overall
SS12 Waipu Gorge (11.38km) | 10º) +13.3s / 11º overall
SS13 Brooks (13.6km) | 10º) +19.4s / 11º overall
SS14 Brother Mititai 2 (23.22km) | 13º) +39.8s / 11º overall
SS15 Girls High School 2 (26.99km) | 13º) +42.8s / 11º overall
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