Solberg set for podium finish, victory up for grabs

Petter Solberg is set to finish Rally New Zealand in third place after day 2 went trouble-free for the Norwegian. He was able to climb back up the order after disastrous start of the event yesterday.

Over the course of second day of rallying in New Zealand, Solberg was able to move in front of Evgeny Novikov and is currently in third spot, 29 seconds in front of Novikov. Petter cannot really hope for anything better than third since he is over 1 minute and 26 seconds behind second placed Mikko Hirvonen. However, should any of the leading Citroëns run into trouble, Solberg will be happy to climb up, I’m sure.

On top the battle still continues between Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen. Citroën is still letting both of them race for victory, at least that’s what they’ve been saying to the public. Whether Mikko and Sebastien received different set of instructions through “private” channels is unknown, but for now they are both pushing quite hard.

“Mikko is very fast and I will have to keep pushing tomorrow if I want to stay ahead of him”, Loeb said. For now, 6.4 seconds separates them.

Jari-Matti Latvala, meanwhile, made peace with the destiny and accepted the situation – he is realistic about his chances saying he cannot hope for more than top 8 finish. Dani Sordo is in 7th and he is almost 2 minutes ahead of the Finn. Plus, Latvala NEEDS to bring car home to at least collect couple of points for the team. So instead of pushing for positions he spent his day testing the car and trying out different setup options.

Another very interesting battle is the one between Sordo and Thierry Neuville for position six. Neuville came out on top in the end and is currently leading the Spaniard by 18 seconds. Sordo, meanwhile, cannot really be satisfied – he had gearbox issue and suffered from poor tyre choice, so Prodrive’s excursion to New Zealand is not going all according to plan.

Final hope for some drivers come in the form of tomorrow’s seven tests and if weather decides to stop behaving nicely it could make things tricky. But, are there enough kilometers left for a major change? Hard to say, but most likely no.