A difficult day... The second day of the Rally of Sweden was not easy for theWorld Champions. Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were third overnight, ended the day with engine cooling problems as the car was consuming more water than ...
A difficult day...
The second day of the Rally of Sweden was not easy for theWorld Champions. Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were third overnight, ended the day with engine cooling problems as the car was consuming more water than usual. François Duval and Stéphane Prévot were an excellent fourth until they suffered from a puncture which forced them to change a wheel during one of the special stages and has damaged their hopes of success.
Sebastien Loeb set the fastest time of the first special stage of the day "Sundsjön' (20,78 km) but it was not without drama. "In a long left-hander I put the power down a little too early and we went a little wide into a small ditch where there were some stones."
This rare mistake for the Citroen driver was then repeated on the next 'Vargåsen' special stage. "The pacenotes said "Sky (over a bump). Right. Brake and left'. I was looking for the 'sky' but when realised too late. I managed to hang on to the car and recover the situation but the road was not wide enough!"
With the Xsara being fixed up at the next service and the set-up slightly modified, Seb set off to attack the 'Fredriksberg' and 'Lejen' stages where he found that the surface had deteriorated because of the cars in front of him. "In places it is a rally on gravel with stones sticking through and we just have to got through it. We don't have tyres for gravel." Without any snow and with narrow wheels the studded tyres suffered and when he returned to Hagfors, the right front wheel rim showed signs of an impact and the left front tyre had the repairing foam from the ATS system showing through.
But as in the morning Seb was able to shine in the 'Sundsjön ' stage, catching up to within 12 seconds of the leader. But there was no time for celebration as the first engine problem emerged soon afterwards. In the service point in the evening engineers committed to solve the problem and hope they actually did.
François Duval was having a steady but exemplary rally occupying a deserved fourth place until SS11 'Lejen'.
"I had just congratulated him," said out Guy Fréquelin. " He did exactly what I expected from him." The young Belgian began the day calmly: "In the first special stage, I wasn't completely awake, I told myself that the important thing was to stay on the road and from the second stage onwards I was back in the rhythm which I have chosen from this event.". Unfortunately, in the 'Lejen' stage the foam which had saved two damaged tyres in the previous special stage, came out after a big piece of the rim was lost. François and his co-driver Stéphane Prévot had to change the wheel on the stage and lost five minutes as a result of this bad luck. Stéphane was very disappointed: "The 'Lejen' stage is not good to us. Last year, we went off there. This year one of the many stones on the test ruined our chances. I never saw a Swedish Rally like this one: usually, you are sliding along".
François and Stéphane, 15th this evening, will be the first to run tomorrow. As for Sebastien and Daniel, they hope to fight their way to the podium with their Xsara.