The thrill of the chase ! After their problem on the `Pierlas' stage yesterday, SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were on a mission to make up time. Helped by their flawlessly reliable Citroen Xsara WRC, they were quickest on five out of five ...
The thrill of the chase !
After their problem on the `Pierlas' stage yesterday, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were on a mission to make up time. Helped by their flawlessly reliable Citroen Xsara WRC, they were quickest on five out of five stages today. It could well have been six out of six, had the second run through the 19 kilometres of `La Tour sur Tinée/Utelle' (SS11) not been cancelled.
By the end of their thrilling day, the reigning World Champions had made up four places and returned to Monaco knocking on the door of the podium. They started the leg's action with a gap of 3m43.6s to leader Marcus Grönholm, but slashed the deficit to 2m41.6s heading into the last day.
At final service, Seb took stock of the situation. "It's been a trouble-free day, apart from a spin at a hairpin bend on `St Antonin' [SS8], " he said. " For the second loop of stages, I opted for harder tyres than my rivals. I took advantage of that choice on the second run through `St Antonin'. On the other hand, those tyres cooled down a lot during the three kilometres of snow after the Col de Turini [SS12] and I was never really able to get temperature back into them for the end of this long stage. I still won it, but it was not easy. The gap of 161 seconds to Marcus will be impossible to make up under normal circumstances, in the 117 kilometres or so that are left to run tomorrow. But we have come back to within 35 seconds of a possible second place, and we are going to do everything possible to try and take it tomorrow... "
The Kronos tent echoed to a traditional refrain of " Happy birthday, Xevi ! " this evening as Sébastien Loeb brought in an equally traditional cake to mark the Spaniard's 26th birthday.
"It's good to see a difficult day end well! " said Pons, a former world Enduro champion, after making up two places. " Today's leg was maybe not quite as challenging as yesterday, but it was difficult nonetheless. The car is exactly as I want it, well-balanced and consistent. On sections of road that are dry or damp, I'm able to give it everything. But I struggle when I have to drive on roads that are snowy or icy with slick tyres. My inexperience of these conditions results in gaps to the opposition which are too big for my taste. I need to work hard in order to reduce them...and getting to the finish is the best way to do that. "
" It's all about learning learning as much as possible ! " This is also the personal maxim of Dani Sordo, who is feeling more and more comfortable at the wheel of his Xsara WRC rented from Kronos Racing. The reigning Junior World Rally Champion was satisfied with his day's work. " We've made some good tyre choices, avoided mistakes, and set a fourth-fastest time [SS7] and a second-fastest time [SS10], making up two places, " he said. " I will remember my second day at the wheel of a World Rally Car as a very good experience... "