Day 2: Citroen can still hit back The second leg of the 2008 Rally of Turkey was shorter than the first and took place in searing heat and bright sunshine. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena ended the day in third position with their C4 WRC,...
Day 2: Citroen can still hit back
The second leg of the 2008 Rally of Turkey was shorter than the first and took place in searing heat and bright sunshine. Citroen's Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena ended the day in third position with their C4 WRC, while their Spanish Citroen Total team-mates Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are fifth.
Saturday's programme featured seven stages, three of which were repeats of first leg tests (Chimera, Phaselis' and the Antalya super-special). Two others (Silyon and Kemer) were new and were contested twice each, making a total of 135km of against-the-clock action.
"Everybody knows how difficult it is to run first on the road," said Sebastien Loeb. "There's no point in moaning about it, or criticising the regulations or the tactics of our rivals. The only answer is to drive as fast as possible!" The defending World Champions did their best to shrug off the pressure from behind on SS10, but they then lost their lead by a margin of 13.7s after SS11. "Given the road order and the advantage which that gives our opponents, I'm actually surprised by how small the gaps are," observed Seb at service. "That said, our Citroen C4 is running perfectly and we have found a set-up that is enabling us to push very close to the limit! Our Pirelli tyres are also standing up well to the risk of punctures."
In addition to having to sweep aside a clear line on the new stages, the current Drivers' championship leaders had another handicap to overcome. "On the second passes," reported Seb, "there was a top-coating of dust, too, which made the going extremely slippery. We preferred to lift and our chasers pounced on that. How frustrating! We've done all we can to keep the gaps as small as possible and try to be in a position to challenge for victory tomorrow. We are now 34.2s behind the leaders, with 67km of stages still to come. It won't be easy, but this rally isn't over yet..."
"Our objective today was to try to home in on the drivers ahead of us in the overnight order," explained Dani Sordo. "We immediately found a good pace and we moved from eighth to seventh. In SS11, however, we hit a rock which resulted in a rear left puncture. It happened more than 10km from the end and I had to make sure that the tyre didn't suffer too much, but we only dropped a handful of seconds. The afternoon's loop was easier."
The next five stages effectively saw Dani post a sequence of times that showcase to the progress he has made on the loose. He profited from SS14 to ease into fifth place and the next one to move to within 6.6s of fourth spot. "The rest of the day was trouble-free," he smiled. "I feel very confident in my Citroen C4 and I stayed focused, while at the same time taking care to look after my tyres. We're now fifth, just a few seconds off fourth place, and there's still along way to go. If I can repeat the same pace tomorrow, I think a good result is possible."
"It's been another tough day," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "It's been very hot and the combination of the punishing conditions and the way the event has unfolded has been hard for everyone. Sebastien and Daniel did very well to keep the gap with the leaders so small. Given the difficulty they faced, that's something of an exploit. I don't think they are out of the chase for victory and there could be some surprises tomorrow. The same goes for Dani and Marc who produced the sort of quick and reliable performance we expected of them. Tomorrow will be important for them, too, with some valuable championship points at stake."