An excellent day for the Xsaras... There were as many twists and turns to day two as there were over the harsh Sardinian landscape, in conditions that were as hot as those of the opening leg yesterday. The three Kronos Racing crews proved to be...
An excellent day for the Xsaras...
There were as many twists and turns to day two as there were over the harsh Sardinian landscape, in conditions that were as hot as those of the opening leg yesterday. The three Kronos Racing crews proved to be as fast and reliable as their Xsara WRCs, coming into their own through six demanding stages. Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena end the day in the lead, Dani Sordo/Marc Marti are third, while Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio finish fourth.
Sébastien Loeb started the day determined to close the gap to Marcus Grönholm. The two rivals were closely matched over Loelle (SS7), which the Finn won by just 1.1 seconds. " Before Monte Lerno [SS8], I made an adjustment to the suspension, " said Seb. " From the start of the stage I could tell that it did not result in the improvement I had hoped for. At the 24th kilometre, according to Daniel, a big impact with a rock embedded in the road surface hit the front of the car. It made me think briefly of the two incidents in Mexico and Catalunya 2004 that had forced me into retirement. But I also remembered that compared to those two occasions, the impact had been on the `good' side of the car the bit under the gearbox rather than the engine. The handling didn't seem to be affected, so I continued to push. Then we were told that Marcus had retired, putting us in the lead. At the end of the stage I examined the car carefully, but there was no real damage. The Xsara is certainly tough ! Afterwards, it was a question of controlling the situation, while still pushing hard enough to feel comfortable. It's at that sort of pace when you can drive most safely. " The reigning World Champion added : "Tomorrow we've got to tackle six stages without service in between. We've got to stay very concentrated... "
After a good first loop of stages, which he described as "very different to yesterday's tests, fast and extremely slippery thanks to a thin layer of sand " Xevi Pons thought he was in sixth, with Chris Atkinson his next target. The battle never took place, as Atkinson was delayed in the service area. This put the Spanish driver well clear of his closest rival, and in a position to take the constructors' points for third place, behind his team mate Dani Sordo (who is not nominated). Xevi said "I decided to protect those precious six points, which I would be really pleased to bring home to the team. I was very careful not to make any mistakes, and I plan to be extra careful tomorrow... "
Dani Sordo notched up yet another very good day. The reigning Junior World Champion said : "I chose tyres that were a bit too hard for the first loop of stages. " During the afternoon's loop of stages, Dani won a duel against Italian driver Gigi Galli, ending the day on the provisional podium.
" It's great, but to enjoy this podium I have to get to the end of the rally, " said Dani. "In the meantime, what I've enjoyed most about my third gravel rally in a World Rally Car is the feeling that slowly but surely I am making progress. The car is perfect for me, and I feel increasingly confident driving it. My experience of different and difficult conditions such as those we found here is growing, and my times are getting better : an important objective for me here. Tomorrow, I'm going to keep concentrating hard so that everything finishes on the same positive note... "