01 Mar 08
The story of the afternoon was that Sebastien Ogier's Citroen continued in the lead, ahead of the two Suzukis, driving carefully, "in the middle of the road" taking no risks.
On the first stage of the afternoon Jaan Molder, who admitted being half-asleep earlier in the day, made a major effort and scored a fastest time, his first in the category in the rally, and rose ahead of teammate Michal Kosciuszko.
On the same stage Martin Prokop had another sensor problem, stopped for 20 minutes but eventually continued - but now very much last of the runners, nearly ten minutes behind the car of the penultimate driver. Also on stage 12 Patrik Sandell had a puncture and he had to stop and change the wheel, dropping him down one place to fifth, behind Aaron Burkart, then the same happened to him and Shaun Gallagher on stage 14 as well.
Kosciuszko meanwhile had his own problems, with his engine losing power at higher altitude but which was running better when the rally returned to the relatively lower regions at the Superspecial. Molder damaged a wheel when he slid off the road, while at the end of the final orthodox stage (stage 14) Burkart arrived with his door hanging off, with a broken hinge, dragging on the ground. The driver was no longer looking smart...
Suzuki's current 2-3 positions in J-WRC goes some way to saving the face of the company whose two World Rally Cars disappeared on the first day of the event, but obviously the dominant story was that the two major categories of the event were being lead by Citroens - and both the two successful drivers were called Sebastien...!
Ogier led the J-WRC all the way, with a lead of nearly 1m30s, notwithstanding losing 30 seconds en route with time control penalties. In the afternoon the stages were won by Molder, Sandell and Ogier. The Superspecial stages at the end of the day were won by Ogier and then Sandell.
As expected, Fanari decided to withdraw from the afternoon stages and prepare for the final four stages on the Sunday.