Sebastien Loeb still in the running for victory The second day of Rally Sweden was exactly like the first hotly disputed and full of twists. After 243 timed kilometres, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are still in second place 16''6...
Sebastien Loeb still in the running for victory
The second day of Rally Sweden was exactly like the first hotly disputed and full of twists. After 243 timed kilometres, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are still in second place 16''6 behind Mikko Hirvonen. The Citroen Total World Rally Team crew are still in the running for victory, and the outcome of the rally will be decided tomorrow in the last leg. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were slowed by various problems and are currently lying fourth.
The Rally Sweden crews left Karlstad at 06:00 and after a brief stop in the Hagfors service park tackled the specials. The day's programme consisted of a loop of four stages to be covered twice.
In Vargasen 1, Loeb lost a handful of seconds. In the next three the 6-time world champion set three quickest times. His all-out attack enabled him to close the gap to four seconds. "You really have to work hard for each second," said the Citroen driver. "Overall, Mikko is quicker in the twisty specials but I manage to catch him in the quicker ones. In the end, the gap is fairly stable. I really want to win this rally and I'm going to keep pushing hard. The road will have changed a lot for this afternoon after all the cars have been through."
Dani Sordo was still third after the first loop more than 30 seconds behind the leader: "The car was understeering a lot in the first special but I set a good time in the next one. Unfortunately, I lost precious seconds in the Fredriksberg stage. I came into a corner a bit too quickly and I had a 360-degree spin. Luckily, I only lost my rear wing. We've now fallen back from the first two and I have to keep an eye on Jari-Matti Latvala if I want to hold on to third place."
After a 30-minute halt in the Hagfors service park, the rally resumed in bright sunshine, a pleasant change from the -20o. in the morning! The layer of snow had given way to gravel and tyre management was going to be crucial, so all the crews started with two spare wheels.
After a good performance in Vargasen 2 (24,63 km), Loeb decided to keep the same tyres in Sagen 2 (14,23 km). "We made a tactical error," the driver of the no.1 C4 WRC admitted. "Mikko, who put on two new tyres at that moment, pulled out eight seconds on us. I then changed my tyres for Fredriksberg 2, but the car felt unbalanced and I lost another eight seconds. I managed to pull back six in Hagfors Sprint 2, as Mikko in turn was in trouble with his studs." Loeb is 16''6 behind the Finn, but his hopes of winning are not yet dashed: "We'll see what happens tomorrow, the road conditions will determine the outcome. The gap's beginning to open up, but I'll do everything in my power to go for the win."
Dani Sordo who was doing his utmost to fight off Jari-Matti Latvala for third place was obliged to relinquish his position in SS15: "We chose the right tyre strategy, but in Fredriksberg 2 I had to stop to let Marc remove a heat shield which hadn't been taken off before the start of the special. We've lost third place and it's a real shame."