Leg 2: No melt down for CitroÃ«n Sport The end of the second of the 2007 Rally Norway's three legs saw SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena park up their CitroÃ«n C4 WRC in parc ferme in Hamar in 18th position. Dani Sordo and Marc MartÃ went off on...
Leg 2: No melt down for Citroën Sport
The end of the second of the 2007 Rally Norway's three legs saw Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena park up their Citroën C4 WRC in parc ferme in Hamar in 18th position. Dani Sordo and Marc Martí went off on SS9 (Elverum) but will profit from the SupeRally ruling to re-start tomorrow in 37th position.
The mild turn to the weather hinted at on Friday continued overnight and this morning's action started under overcast skies. With temperatures hovering around the 0°C mark, snow fell on all six of today's stages, resulting in a coating of up to 10cm of snow in places. These conditions didn't make life particularly easy for the Citroën crews.
The day started with the 44.28km Elverum stage which was eagerly, if warily, awaited by the two Citroën Sport crews. Dani Sordo knew that the variable conditions were unlikely to play in his favour, but Sébastien Loeb had every intention of bridging the gap that separated him from the drivers ahead of him in the overnight standings.
It's been some time since the Citroën squad last had such a complex day during an event. The Elverum test began by stopping Dani Sordo in his tracks when the Spaniard's Citroën C4 was reported parked up by the side of the stage, 17.7km after the start. "After the feeling I had on yesterday's last two stages, I tried to continue at the same pace," he explained back at service.
"Although my road position forced me to cut a line in the fresh snow, my split times weren't bad, despite the fact that I was battling with my car as it understeered and oversteered over the icy ruts. I had to fight to keep it on course. Then, on one left-hander, the rear end suddenly came out. I tried to opposite lock to bring it back in line but the front hit a snow bank which sent us into a ditch on the other side of the road. To try and pull clear, I accelerated hard but the car started heading for some trees and I preferred to brake so as not to hit them too hard. I am extremely disappointed because I so wanted to keep the car in one piece and score some points for Citroën. I hope I can re-start tomorrow to get a few more kilometres of driving on snow under my belt. I need them."
Citroën team will not leave Norway with fond memories of SS9, for after Dani's mishap it was Sébastien Loeb's turn to find the going difficult. "I didn't feel totally confident," he admitted. "I was having to correct my line through the corners all the time and I didn't want to push too hard so as not to make a mistake." Immediately afterwards, however, the three-time World Champion went on to post the fastest time on SS10, enabling him to stay on the heels of Marcus Grönholm and keep up his challenge for 2nd place.
Indeed, he saw the afternoon's four stages as the ideal opportunity to repeat his good showing of the previous day. Unfortunately, the troll who had chosen to put a curse on the team here in Norway decided otherwise... "We had several misadventures during the afternoon," reported Sébastien. "On SS11, my air filter became blocked by snow and we lost power. Then, on SS12, I slid off under braking on some icy ruts and the car became stuck in a snowbank. That cost us eight minutes. On the next stage, Daniel and I decided to do all we could to score a Manufacturers' point but things didn't go as planned because we made another mistake. Today's result is obviously very disappointing."
"We've had better days," commented Guy Fréquelin at the Viking Ship service park in Hamar. "Three offs in one day has clearly had a big effect on our position. In the case of Dani, coming to grips with the hazards associated with this sort of terrain is all part of the learning curve. It is important to note that he will restart tomorrow in order to cover the stages he didn't contest today. That's vital for next year. As for Seb, these are the sort of things that can happen when the fight is this fierce. Sometimes it doesn't take much to cause you to lose time and that happened on two occasions today. What with the snow and the fog, the conditions meant that such misfortunes were always on the cards and we were the principal victims of that today."