Sebastien Ogier ready to defend his lead
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia looked after their lead perfectly throughout the second day of the Rally de Portugal. The Citroen Junior Team crew maintains a 21.1-second advantage over Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena with fewer than 90 competitive kilometres left to run before the finish. Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom are close to their third consecutive top 10 finish.
Having ended the opening day of the Rally de Portugal in the lead, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were first on the road today throughout the 135.10 competitive kilometres between Almodovar and Santa Bras de Alportel, in the heart of the Algarve region.
Sebastien Ogier held a 26.6-second margin over Dani Sordo when he started the day and managed to maintain his advantage over the first three stages. The Citroen Junior Team driver returned to midday service with a 22.9-second cushion over Sebastien Loeb, who had moved up to second overall. "We managed to limit the damage well," commented Ogier. "When you are first on the road you have to adapt your driving style by braking earlier, not sliding the car too much and just driving as cleanly as possible. Getting sideways costs time. It's going to be close right to the finish today!"
In the afternoon, the former Junior World Rally Champion did even better setting a fastest time on SS11. In total, he dropped only 1.8 seconds over the 67.55-kilometre loop of stages. By the end of the second day, he still held a 21.1-second lead over Sebastien Loeb: "It was a great day," he concluded. "We were able to take time out of everyone apart from Seb. We also managed to look after our tyres while keeping up a good pace. Tomorrow, we will be first on the road again. It's not going to be easy, but we're going to keep going with the aim of finishing the rally first and foremost."
Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom started the day 10th and benefited from Latvala's retirement to move up a place after the second stage of the day. "The stages are a bit more tricky than they were yesterday," said Raikkonen. "I hope that we can improve on the second loop, when we know the roads better. For the moment we're just learning. There's no other objective."
Kimi Raikkonen upped his pace at the end of the day with an eighth-fastest time on SS12, but he then made a small mistake on the final stage (SS13): "I was feeling more and more confident so I decided to push a bit harder," he said. "Then I locked up in a braking area and went straight on. There was no other consequence apart from losing a few seconds. I knew that the rally would be very tough so we're just continuing to build up experience with the aim of covering as many kilometres as possible."
"It was a perfect second day of the rally for Sebastien and Julien," concluded Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. "They looked after their tyres in an extremely intelligent way. It was also a perfect day for the team as neither of our Citroen C4 WRCs experienced the slightest technical problem. Now we have to make sure that we get to the finish tomorrow in order to bring the rally to a satisfactory conclusion: this is vital. Kimi tried to push a bit harder today. The times were better but he made a small mistake. This really underlines his potential, but caution has to remain a watchword. Gaining experience is his priority. "