Araujo, the defending Production Car World Rally Champion, started the day with a minute lead over second-placed driver Anders Grondal (Subaru Impreza WRX). With everything to lose, Araujo set about the exceptionally tricky roads to the south of the event’s Strasbourg base at a brisk but sensible pace.
After spending last night solving the set-up issues he’d had through day one, Araujo’s approach to day two was all about survival.
“That is the most important thing,” he said. “It’s vital that we get to the end of the event. Everything has gone well today. I am happy with the way the car is set up, it’s running very well and not too soft like it had been yesterday. The roads have been incredible today, just incredible. On the second run through the long stage, it was astonishing.”
Araujo had been fastest through the first running of the event’s longest test - the 35-kilometre Pays d’Ormont stage - but he was forced to give best to Grondal second time through. Araujo was a minute and a half slower the second time through the stage, so bad were the conditions.
Despite dropping 28 seconds to Grondal in SS15, Araujo was still comfortably ahead at the end of the second day. “I feel quite confident,” said Araujo. “Yes, the roads are slippery, but it’s okay. We didn’t make any mistakes, we kept our lines clean and everything is good. Now let’s see tomorrow.”
Grondal’s grip on second was lost on the final stage, when he slipped off the road and into a ditch, puncturing two tyres. That problem for the Norwegian Impreza driver elevated Estonian Pirelli Star Driver Ott Tanak to second at the end of day two
Markko Martin’s protégé is still no fan of asphalt, but he did manage his first fastest time of the event on the day’s opener. He said: “I can’t say I don’t like asphalt, because this isn’t asphalt - I don’t know what it is. I have never done Monte Carlo Rally, but I think it would be similar to this in terms of changing grip. It’s been really tough, but the car has been good today.”
Toshi Arai was a victim of the first running of the longest stage, suffering a puncture aboard his Subaru. The Japanese and his British co-driver Daniel Barritt stopped to change the puncture, dropping three minutes in the process. So big was his advantage over the fifth-placed Alex Raschi that he remained fourth behind Grondal.
Raschi was pleased with his day aboard the second quickest of the Pirelli Star Driver Lancers. “Today was a good day,” said Raschi. “It’s difficult. I didn’t see so many roads like this, it’s a little bit incredible at times. The car is nice, no problems for me.”
Chinese diver Rui Wang rounded out the top six in his Subaru.
Rally results links on wrc.com: