Day 1: Dani Sordo in the points The opening leg of the 2008 Swedish Rally saw CitroÃ«n C4 WRC crew Dani Sordo and Marc MartÃ complete today's stages in 7th place in the classification for drivers eligible to score Manufacturers' points. An...
Day 1: Dani Sordo in the points
The opening leg of the 2008 Swedish Rally saw Citroën C4 WRC crew Dani Sordo and Marc Martí complete today's stages in 7th place in the classification for drivers eligible to score Manufacturers' points. An 'off' on the day's third test put an end to the run of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who were unhurt in the incident.
With a menu of 122.14km of stages, the first day turned out to be something of an awesome challenge for competitors. In addition to the two attempts at the Karlstad super-special on Thursday evening and then again today, the programme essentially comprised a loop of three stages to be contested twice each. This was the first time for some years that these tests, which took place in conditions marked by melting ice, had featured on the event.
It was just as Citroën Sport's engineers and technicians were settling into their allocated spot at the mid-leg remote service park in Sunne that reports that the Citroën C4 WRC of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena had stopped 19km into SS4 came through. Although they lost time, the defending World Champions succeeded in completing the stage and reaching Sunne where they related their misadventure.
"I hit a snowbank with the front of my car on the inside of a fast left-hander, and that sent us into a spin," reported Sébastien. "I tried to get the car back in line but we hit a bank and rolled. We landed on the stage but a problem with the clutch meant that we weren't able to re-start at once. It was a driver error but the car didn't really take a big knock. Had we been able to service after the stage, I think we would have been able to continue."
Indeed, the misfortunes of Seb and Daniel didn't stop there. The regulations governing remote service parks dictate that the four mechanics authorised to work on the car are only authorised to change damaged parts using spares carried in the car itself. "The team did its absolute best to make repairs," continued Seb, "but we decided to call it a day because we didn't have a sump-guard, we were down on power and the clutch was playing up. The intercooler was damaged, too, and it's just not possible to carry a spare in the car all the time! But rules are rules and we shouldn't have made the mistake, but it's very frustrating, both for ourselves and for Citroën."
In the second Citroën Total car, Dani Sordo/Marc Martí started the day at a cautious pace before gradually upping their speed during the afternoon. "I knew it wouldn't be easy to recover the five- minute time penalty we were given before the start for putting in a new engine," explained Dani. "I therefore chose a pace that would enable me to find my marks again on ice and check my pacenotes. Once I began to feel confident, I was able to start pushing harder and I felt quite comfortable, so that's very encouraging for tomorrow."
"Frustration is the first word that comes to mind to sum up our day," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "Things had been going remarkably well when Sébastien made a small error in a fairly straightforward corner. That just goes to show yet again that anything can happen, that the drivers really are equilibrists and that a mistake can be made at any moment. He will re-start under the SupeRally ruling tomorrow. Dani and Marc have kept to the plan established before the start and I am pleased with their performance today. There are still two long days to come and they could well still salvage a few Manufacturers' points..."