Midday wrap: Loeb extends lead Sebastien Loeb turned in another perfect performance through Saturday morning's stages - although the Rally Bulgaria leader was beaten for the first time since the start of the event as his Citroen Total team-mate...
Midday wrap: Loeb extends lead
Sebastien Loeb turned in another perfect performance through Saturday morning's stages - although the Rally Bulgaria leader was beaten for the first time since the start of the event as his Citroen Total team-mate Dani Sordo collected fastest time in SS6.
The third and final stage of the morning was cancelled due to the high number of spectators arriving late at the end of the 24.86-kilometer Lyubnitsa, leaving Loeb to drive back to service with a half-minute lead over Sordo.
The Citroens had also further extended their advantage over Ford after the Focus RS WRCs of Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala ran with hard-compound Pirellis on what turned out to be wetter-than-expected stages. Citroen had universally taken the soft option.
"It was a good morning," said Loeb. "There were no mistakes and no problems. In the second stage I was thinking a little more to the safety. I lost my rhythm in the middle of the stage and then couldn't find it so much. I would like to push some more, I feel better when I drive like this."
Having extended his advantage over third-placed Petter Solberg, Sordo was happy with his morning's work. "I think this is okay now," said the Spaniard, eyeing the timesheets which revealed a 26.8-second advantage over the 2003 world champion. "It was wet in the first stage, but it was also quite good fun driving the car in these conditions. I feel well with the car now, the set-up is really good."
Solberg's position was similar to that of Sordo. He was unwilling to risk all in pursuit of the second factory C4, particularly as the challenge from behind had faded. Hirvonen and Latvala, who started the day chasing Solberg, were passed by Ogier in the day's opener; the Rally Portugal winner was fourth, but he was more than a minute behind Solberg. "I'm thinking about the championship now," said Solberg.
Ogier was content to spend his time learning more about driving the Citroen on asphalt - and to keep the Fords behind him.
Hirvonen and Latvala were both bemused at their lot through the morning. Mikko summed it up saying: "We expected the first and last stage to be dry and the middle stage to be drying. The road to the first stage was dry, but then a kilometre before the start it got wet. The middle one was drying and the last was bone dry - but then they cancelled that one!"
Overnight Junior World Rally Championship category leader Mathieu Arzeno slipped behind Thierry Neuville on Saturday's opening stage and then lost further ground when he picked up a puncture on stage six and slipped to fifth in class. His delay has promoted Hans Weijs up to second in the young driver standings, albeit more than 50 seconds behind Neuville. Joint championship leader Kevin Abbring is up to fourth behind Yeray Lemes, who was delayed by a broken driveshaft on stage two.