Leg 1: Citroen and Loeb take command in Corsica Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen C4 WRC completed the first leg of the 2007 Tour de Corse at the top of the overnight standings, with Dani Sordo and Marc Marti following in third...
Leg 1: Citroen and Loeb take command in Corsica
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen C4 WRC completed the first leg of the 2007 Tour de Corse at the top of the overnight standings, with Dani Sordo and Marc Marti following in third place with the second Citroen Sport car. The sun was shining for the opening day of France's round of the WRC as competitors headed to the southeast of Ajaccio for 124.28km of competitive action which took the form of a loop of three stages to be covered twice each, plus a visit to the service park in between.
The high number of spectators, some of whom were undisciplined, led the organisers to take the safe option of cancelling SS1 (Monti Rossu-Pila Canale), which meant serious business only began on SS2 (Bocca Albitrina) in the mountains high above Propriano. At the ensuing Stop Control, neither Citroen crew was perfectly happy with their run, despite the fast pace and the narrow margins. Seb talked of a minor 'moment' early on, while Dani blamed himself for perhaps being slightly overcautious.
The picture differed little on the following test which saw the two Citroen C4 drivers claim the second and third quickest times once again. Dani and Marc returned to the service park ahead of Seb and Daniel on the provisional leaderboard, but the top-three were tightly bunched together, with the Spaniard a mere 2.9s off the lead and his French team-mate just 4.1s behind. Nothing was by any means over, although everyone was aware that toppling Marcus Gronholm was not going to be easy...
"Today's wide, reasonably smooth stages were similar to what we found in Spain last week, so it wasn't a surprise to see Marcus go so well" observed Guy Frequelin at the midday break. "We knew that before coming here, and we were very aware that it wouldn't be easy to repeat our one-two finish in Salou. That said, this rally has only just begun and the day is far from over..."
The words of the Citroen Sport team boss rang true as the afternoon unfolded. After making some small changes to his suspension, Sebastien Loeb went on to post three consecutive fastest times and pass into the lead. "We needed to push hard today," he related. "I felt more confident after the modifications we made to the set-up of my C4 after the morning's loop. It's nice to be ahead this evening but victory is by no means in the bag yet."
"It was a fierce fight this afternoon," concluded Guy Frequelin. "After fine-tuning the set- up of their Citroen C4 WRC, Sebastien and Daniel put in a magnificent run over today's last three stages to bridge the gap and then pull out a small lead on which they will need to try to build tomorrow. After a promising start, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti didn't take the same tyres as Sebastien for the second loop. Their challenge tomorrow will be to try to catch Marcus Gronholm..."