Carlos Sainz fights on! After a difficult second leg, the CitroÃ«n team might have lost one car, but is still fighting for the win. Carlos Sainz, surpassing himself, is currently in second place, just under fifteen seconds behind Markko MÃ¤rtin,...
Carlos Sainz fights on!
After a difficult second leg, the Citroën team might have lost one car, but is still fighting for the win. Carlos Sainz, surpassing himself, is currently in second place, just under fifteen seconds behind Markko Märtin, leader of the rally since the retirement of Sébastien Loeb.
At the end of the day's first special stage, Citroën had been in an ideal position. Leading the rally, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena had a margin of more than thirty seconds over their nearest rival, who was none other than their team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Unfortunately, Sébastien's superb race came to an end after SS 6. Five kilometres into this stage, the Xsara was subjected to a severe impact on the sump guard. "Coming out of a very fast corner, the car took off, " Seb explained, "Where it touched back down, the road was cambered, with, in the middle, a rock solidly set in the compacted earth. The lower protection was lifted up, and the oil emptied out of the damaged sump... ."
"What happened afterwards was unavoidable : a drop in oil pressure, a damaged engine, and then retirement. Of course, this is a great disappointment," Seb continued. "We were leading, setting our pace on that of Markko [Märtin]. Yesterday, Petter's problems put me in the lead. Today, I'm the one to suffer bad luck. The outcome of a rally sometimes depends on fate. You have to learn to accept it ..."
Due to the distance that had to be covered during the sequence of three special stages, Carlos Sainz chose the hardest compound of the Michelin Z-type tyre. "For the first time round, on fresh tyres, a softer compound might have been better," the Spanish driver explained at the service park. "However, as the temperatures rise, this choice should be suitable for the second run ."
As specified by the new regulations, the Stewards had to be informed of the Spaniard's choice, at the very latest three minutes after the Xsara came into the pre-service area.
This was done, but a mistake written onto the dedicated form, designated the numbers of the tyres already mounted on the car.
Clearly, in order to respect the regulations, Carlos was forced to drive through the second loop with the tyres that had already completed 77 km of special stages ...
It is during difficult times such as these that the solidarity of a team can be judged, and that the strength of a Champion can be fully appreciated.
Carlos, who appeared to have been condemned, fought back. He experienced a spin, followed by a rear left puncture in the first special stage of the loop, but never lost his motivation.
For the third special stage, he had to swap a tyre that was too 'tired' with the punctured tyre, still inflated thanks to the Michelin ATS system mousse. This did not put him off either.
He found the necessary resources to set the second-fastest time in the last special stage of the day. In this way, he got the better of François Duval, and replaced himself behind Markko Märtin. "Starting off for this third loop," explained Carlos, "I did my best to get rid over any pressure from the 'tyre incident'. I tried to go as quickly as possible while managing the tyres. Today, the rally has had its fair share of surprises. It could be the same again tomorrow. Nothing is over yet - it is still all to play for ! "