The domino theory When the second pass through the "Cardiff Super Special", drawn up around the docks of the Welsh capital city, came to an end, SÃ©bastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Colin McRae/Derek Ringer were respectively lying in second...
The domino theory
When the second pass through the "Cardiff Super Special", drawn up around the docks of the Welsh capital city, came to an end, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Colin McRae/Derek Ringer were respectively lying in second and fourth position in the provisional classification of Wales Rally GB.
Tonight, Carlos Sainz, a contender, like Sébastien Loeb, for the Drivers' Championship, is no longer in a position to defend his title hopes. The Spanish driver went off the road at the start of SS3, "Trawscoed", after a series of occurrences which can only be compared to the domino theory. When the Madrid based driver left the service this morning, the cockpit quickly filled up with smoke. It soon proved to be coming from the new video recorder, installed by the TV production team. The unit was a different one from the usual well-tested and reliable box used until now in the World Championship.
To solve the problem, after a number of attempts, Carlos was forced to cut the power cable to the defective unit. Therefore, with a delay of eleven minutes over his ideal time, he was finally able to take the start of SS2, " Brechfa", considerably perturbed. Although he was reassured by the news that any possible time penalty would be removed, and that he could be repositioned in second place in the starting order, the Spanish driver still had the incident on his mind when he started "Trawscoed". "Due to this series of problems, I had lost my concentration," Carlos admitted. "I did not hear the instruction ' tightening 3' after the 'left 6' and I went straight. "
The retirement of Carlos Sainz was to knock into the next domino in the chain. With just two cars left in the rally and able to score points, Guy Fréquelin had to ask Sébastien Loeb and Colin McRae to concentrate on the Manufacturers' Championship, and to avoid taking too many risks. Team boss explained " I discussed this matter with Claude Satinet - chairman of Citroën - : "I have no other choice. This is a difficult situation to manage. I must, however, place the emphasis on the Manufacturers' title."
Sébastien took an amazing start this morning, setting the first two fastest times on stage 2 and 3. Seb was following the plan he had laid out : a full- out attack. "Of course I preferred that strategy," the French driver admitted, having lost a few seconds during the second time through the stages. "Now, I have to stay on the road, which is a bit more difficult. But my job is to make sure that the team wins, and I will do my best to achieve this the best I can."
Colin McRae, who is no longer in contention as far as the Drivers' title is concerned, was aiming, from the start, to score as many points as possible towards the Manufacturers' title. His target has not changed, but Carlos' retirement has given the Scotsman's performance a more crucial importance. However, McRae was reassuring this evening : " It might seem a long way from here to the finish line, but we are going to do our job and make sure we collect points for the team! "