Day 2: A one-two finish in the Citroen C4 WRC's sights The second day of the 2008 Rally Catalunya saw Citroen Total show the same sort of dominating form that was a hallmark of Friday's action. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena profited from the speed...
Day 2: A one-two finish in the Citroen C4 WRC's sights
The second day of the 2008 Rally Catalunya saw Citroen Total show the same sort of dominating form that was a hallmark of Friday's action. Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena profited from the speed and efficiency of their Citroen C4 to add four further fastest times to their score and extend their advantage at the top of the leaderboard. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who follow in their wake, also put in an exemplary run, successfully defending second place. Just one day of the event remains for the French squad to try to secure yet another one-two finish.
The format of today's programme took the traditional form of three stages contested once in the morning and a second time in the afternoon. The day's competitive action totalled 127.98km and took crews to the northwest of host town Salou. The first of the three stages was the 38.27km El Priorat-La Ribera d'Ebre test which was largely considered to be the day's biggest challenge.
"I was aware that the way this stage went first thing this morning would have a big influence on how the rest of the first loop unfolded, so it was important to approach it in the right way and look after our tyres," observed Sebastien Loeb. "Had we not done so, the rest of the morning could have been much more complex. I did my best not to ask too much of my tyres so as not to jeopardize their performance on the next two tests, and that way I was able to push hard on SS8 and SS9. I am very happy with the set-up of my C4. It is nicely balanced and that is obviously a big boost for confidence. Our rhythm since yesterday suits me and I think I will keep to the same sort of pace for a little bit longer and try to extend our lead." The morning of Dani and Marc was just as positive.
"It was important to look after our Pirellis on the long stage," echoed the young Spaniard. "It's in situations like this that you realise how crucial experience can be and how that can help you avoid making a mistake. I didn't push my tyres too hard and that enabled me to pull a little further clear of the driver in third place. That's exactly the objective we set with the team before this morning's start and we will try to stick to the same game plan this afternoon."
The repeat run proved just as successful for the Citroen Sport team. "We didn't have any unpleasant surprises," related the four-time World Champion. "The roads were dirtier but the information passed on to us by our gravel note crew enabled us to keep out of trouble. The hotter weather also meant it was more important to take the tyre wear factor into account. The gaps are bigger now, but we still can't afford to start thinking it's all over..."
"I essentially kept an eye on the times of my closest chaser in order to keep the gap at about the same sort of level going into the final day. We succeeded in doing just that and we are still second," added Dani. "The set-up of my car is perfect and I am pleased with our run today. Just six more stages totalling 93.88km separate us from another possible Citroen one-two. That's by no means a foregone conclusion, but we are in a fairly favourable position."
"After yesterday's excellent groundwork, we succeeded in delivering the same sort of performance today," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "Everyone in the team stayed extremely focused and neither crew put a foot wrong. Both cars have been perfectly reliable and competitive, and that enabled Sebastien and Daniel to continue to dominate the leaderboard and take their score to nine consecutive fastest times this morning. They then had the intelligence to take onboard the shift in the weather and stage conditions. Dani and Marc faced a difficult challenge which was to shrug off the pressure from their closest rivals, and I think they have shown that there aren't many drivers around who can beat them today on asphalt. I am obviously delighted with the performance of both crews and with the way the rally has gone so far, but it won't be over until tomorrow afternoon's finish ceremony at around 3pm. I hope that will be a chance for us to celebrate..."