Leg 2: Sebastien Loeb and Citroen on the overnight podium After the weekend's longest leg which took competitors to the Jamsa region, south-west of host town Jyvaskyla, the Citroen C4 WRC of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena reached this evening's...
Leg 2: Sebastien Loeb and Citroen on the overnight podium
After the weekend's longest leg which took competitors to the Jamsa region, south-west of host town Jyvaskyla, the Citroen C4 WRC of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena reached this evening's parc ferme in third position. The sister car of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti was forced to retire following an engine problem while running an excellent fifth overall. The second day of the 2007 Rally Finland, ninth round of the 2007 World Rally Championship, featured some 180km of competitive action divided into nine stages, including the high-speed Ouninpohja test (SS14/16) and its spectacular jumps that have helped forge the legend of the '1000 Lakes Rally'.
After their somewhat frustrating run on Friday, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena set off this morning in bright, sunny weather intent on homing in on the provisional leaders, and their Citroen C4 WRC leapt from crest to crest as the pair did all they could to improve on overnight third. "Our only option was to attack if we wanted to make up ground," explained Seb. "That approach seemed to pay on the day's first stage since we posted the fastest time. After that, it wasn't quite so easy, though. We continued to push hard but we weren't able to make any real inroads on the two drivers ahead of us.
"Perhaps I didn't drive as smoothly as I did during the first leg," observed the Frenchman. "I sensed I was losing time and there were portions where I could have gone faster. Maybe the fear of making a mistake subconsciously prevented me from taking more risks. I clearly didn't feel comfortable enough to match their pace despite the fact that I didn't have a problem with the handling of my C4." To give the three-time World Champion every chance of achieving his objective, Citroen Sport's technical team continued to make fine-tuning adjustments to the set-up of his car at the successive service halts.
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti started the second leg at the same pace they had chosen for the first. "We set off this morning with our objective clear in our minds: reach the finish and learn as much as possible," explained Dani. "It's for that reason that I didn't take any risks on Kaipolanuori (SS12), which was new to me, and even fewer on Ouninpohja (SS14) which is where I went off last year! Up until the moment we were halted in our tracks by a mechanical problem on SS15, I felt we were making good progress and my grasp of the stages was improving all the time. My retirement is a shame for Citroen, and also for us because, once again, I will not be able to do a complete Rally Finland."
The Spaniard's retirement comforted Sebastien in his choice of tactics for the remainder of the event: "Even if Dani is able to re-start under the SupeRally ruling, there was little chance that he will be able to score points for Citroen," commented Seb. "Meanwhile, it was looking increasingly unlikely that I would be able to come away with any better than third. After the second pass through Ouninpohja, the reasonable thing seemed to be to concentrate on holding our position."
Guy Frequelin was fully behind this strategy: "Despite their best efforts, Seb and Daniel were not able to close in on the leaders. That, plus the unmerited retirement of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who put in a faultless run, meant it was only logical for Sebastien to decide to defend his position. There is still more action tomorrow and, even though the leaderboard appears to be fairly settled, you never know what can happen. There are still three more stages to come..."