What a fight ! After a thrilling second leg SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are still leading Wales Rally GB. The fight with Petter Solberg and Phil Mills has been absolutely fantastic throughout the day, ending with a superb duel on the last...
What a fight !
After a thrilling second leg Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are still leading Wales Rally GB. The fight with Petter Solberg and Phil Mills has been absolutely fantastic throughout the day, ending with a superb duel on the last speed test, the Cardiff Bay super stage. Tonight the Xsara leads by 7,3 seconds.
Lying fourth at the overnight halt, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti will aim to catch Markko Märtin and Michael Park over the remaining 90 kilometres of the programme tomorrow.
As yesterday, weather remained the major concern this morning. Strong winds at the end of the night brought heavy clouds and a violent shower on the west side of the Black Mountain and on the three stages located in the military camp of Epynt.
Sébastien Loeb felt extremely confident and won two stages. "With the rain, we found cleaner roads, as the mud was swept off and left a stony surface. They were the same conditions as yesterday morning. The fine-tuning we've done on the car's suspension last night also paid off. In the first loop, I drove at a good pace and I think the car and tyre combination worked really well. As I was fastest on the first test, I decided it was worth pushing hard in the next ones to make up the gap". The Xsara's lead climbed to 17,2 s.
For the second pass through the three stages, Seb' had to keep the same set of tyres as for the first one. "We knew that predicting weather at this time of year was going to be difficult", explained team boss Guy Fréquelin, "and for that reason our tyre package contains a large range but each tyre type is limited in number. It has been raining since the start of the rally and we have used the soft compound ones and we need to make them last longer..." So, the French team-mates defended their position in the second run, controlling Petter Solberg's recovery. "The gap is now 10,6 seconds compared to 8,4 seconds this morning", advised Daniel Elena at the midday service. "In six stages and 90 kilometres of tests, we increased the margin by 2,2 seconds."
Six kilometres into "Margam", Sébastien hit a stone on the inside of a corner which punctured the front right tyre. "The ATS system worked perfectly there. We also relied on the ATS when we mounted a bank about 18 kilometres in and the tyre came off the rim slightly. The handling became a bit "funny" and I think we lost around four or five seconds." Taking this into consideration, each tenth of a second counted in the super stage. Even if this kind of exercise isn't Sébastien's usual cup of tea, he found the determination to outstrip Petter of 0,5 s with a clear message : "the battle continues tomorrow"!
Of course, the sunlight was turned to the duel between Seb and Petter but Carlos Sainz gained one position after Marcus Grönholm's retirement. He now lies in a good position to catch Markko Märtin to take third place. "The stages and conditions were better today, explained the Madrid-based-driver. "I felt confident with the car. We hit something on stage 13 but we didn't loose time. At the next service, the team checked the car and everything was fine. I will do everything to try to catch Markko tomorrow for a podium finish. "