Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena ended their Rally Italia Sardegna early. On the second day of competition, heavy impact with a rock has put them out of action. They will not use the Rally2 rule that would allow them to return to the action on Saturday. They recently notched their ninth consecutive FIA World Rally championship.
Loeb was the leader when “an incorrect pace note” is what took out the top Citroen works team fail to take what would have been victory number nine this season. Loeb’s lead over his teammate Mikko Hirvonen was 1.1 seconds on the first stage of day two; SS3 of the four day challenge.
Loeb hit a rock damaging the Citroen DS3 steering.
“I was pushing really, really hard but it was a little mistake in the notes in a corner,” said Loeb. “I entered a bit too fast and hit the stone on the exit. It threw the car into a spin and finally we spun on the road. I turned around and continued but the steering was very hard so I knew something was broken in the steering. I continued for a few corners but after the steering was blocked completely and I had to stop there.”
Citroen’s Thierry Neuville for the Qatar World Rally Team Citroen also appeared to be out on the same stage. After a roll over the car was on its roof and Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, along with two marshalls pushed their DS3 back on its wheels. In the process, the Belgian burned his fingers. He will push on despite the pain. The team will use the Rally2 rule to return to action tomorrow.
“I was crying after the stage because I was in a lot of pain, I couldn’t believe the pain,” said Neuville. “My co-driver Nicolas did the road section and I was next to him putting my fingers in a bottle of water to cool them down. Maybe it will be difficult for tomorrow but the doctors have done some good work already so I will be able to manage to drive.”