A speedy "ghost" set the pace in the WRC2 cars at the Central European Rally on Saturday: Adrien Fourmaux (FRA), competing in the latest Ford Fiesta, took the lead from Emil Lindholm, who had to endure a moment of shock in the afternoon when his brake pedal failed. Since Fourmaux is not registered in any of the championships that score points, he can enjoy the lead as a guest starter, while the permanently registered WRC2 drivers - above all Lindholm - fought for points and placings in the "small" WRC.
On the final stage of the day, Nicolas Ciamin collected a ten-second penalty for checking in too late. As a result, Czech local Erik Cais moved up in the battle for second place in his newly won home World Championship. Nikolay Gryazin enjoyed a strong day until he stalled on the final special stage, ultimately finishing ninth. Pole Mikko Marczyk also stopped and restarted, giving Gus Greensmith a boost in his bid to draw level with Andreas Mikkelsen in the WRC2 title fight. The Englishman drove his best stage of the day to secure fifth place overall, which could be his chance to keep the title fight alive until the final round in Japan.
Here are the voices from WRC2 and the other classes, collected at the evening service in Passau.
#20 Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) / Torstein Eriksen (NOR), Skoda Fabia RS
"The day was only halfway interesting because we lost so much time on the first day that we are no longer in the points. Our only chance is to grab a few more points on the power stage - that's our focus."
#22 Gus Greensmith (GBR) / Jonas Andersson (SWE), Skoda Fabia RS
"The stages just don't suit me at all. In the afternoon it was even more difficult because of the tire choice. In the championship, I'm now the mathematical leader and that's important."
#23 Sami Pajari (FIN) / Enni Mälkönen (FIN), Skoda Fabia RS
"The tracks today were tricky as hell, but it got better in the afternoon. We maybe had a different tire choice than most of the other teams. With that, the first and last stages in the afternoon went quite well."
#24 Adrien Fourmaux (FRA) / Alexandre Coria (FRA), Ford Fiesta Mk II
"I am super satisfied. We set the fastest time in the WRC2 class. The conditions were tricky, but we made a good tire choice. It couldn't have gone any better. We have to keep pushing tomorrow because the gap to the rear is not that big. It remains exciting."
#26 Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL) / Maciej Szczepaniak (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"This is Monte - Monte Carlo. I've never raced at Monte Carlo, but it seems so similar. There's no reason to push. We were cautious as before on the first loop. In WRC2 it looks clear, so I'm trying to have fun."
#27 Emil Lindholm (FIN) / Reeta Hämäläinen (FIN), Hyundai i20 N
"The day was fun. But it wasn't the easiest day at the office. The tracks are beautiful and the cuts are deep. We have to pay a lot of attention to the road conditions. But we got through and had fun. It's a good feeling. In the afternoon we had the chance to put on slicks for the first time - that was great."
#28 Miko Marczyk (POL) / Daniel Dymurski (POL), Skoda Fabia RS
"Unfortunately, we went off course at one point, but luckily we made it back. Finally we are here. On the second lap I didn't have the rhythm I would have liked, but the first part of the day was good. We'll have to see how it goes tomorrow with the slicks and hopefully dry conditions."
#31 Erik Cais (CZE) / Daniel Trunkát (CZE), Skoda Fabia RS
"Not an easy day. It was difficult today. We had a few moments when the car went sideways. It's not a nice feeling when you have to wait to see if you have grip at the end of the corner or not. I'm happy with the day."
#36 Nicolas Ciamin (FRA) / Yannick Roche (FRA), Skoda Fabia RS
"On the whole, a good day. The conditions were tough again, especially on the last stage. We didn't make a good tire choice in the afternoon. The last stage was more gravel road than asphalt. We didn't lose that much time - so it was still okay. I've been sick since yesterday and this afternoon it got worse. I hope it doesn't get worse tomorrow."
#39 Simon Wagner (AUT) / Gerald Winter (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"The Mühltal special stage was a really awesome stage, there are still so many fans in the action zones. After I lost a bit of motivation yesterday after the puncture, I tried hard today to make sure we were very fast. Let's see what else we can do tomorrow."
#46 Martin Roßgatterer (AUT) / Jürgen Heigl (AUT), Skoda Fabia Evo
"It's brilliant to experience my birthday like this. In the afternoon I got more confidence again and got faster."
#49 Johannes Keferböck (AUT) / Ilka Mimor (AUT), Skoda Fabia RS
"We risked more on SS12 and unfortunately spun. We were lucky to still be in it at all."