Loeb ... and Sordo not far behind! It was an excellent second leg for Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who stretched their lead of the rally to nearly 40 seconds. Equally good were Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who made up two places and stand on...
Loeb ... and Sordo not far behind!
It was an excellent second leg for Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who stretched their lead of the rally to nearly 40 seconds. Equally good were Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who made up two places and stand on the provisional podium heading into the final day. And finally, it was a particularly good day for the Citroen Xsara WRC, which was first and second on three out of four special stages. Thanks also to Xevi Pons/Carlos del Barrio, there are still three Xsaras in the top six places.
On today's itinerary was a visit to some of the most spectacular scenery in Corsica. The `Vico' stage finished close to the sparkling coastline of the Gulf of Sagone, then the crews headed for the breathtaking road between Ucciani and Bastelica. Against the backdrop of this stunning countryside, the tight battle between Sebastien Loeb and Marcus Gronholm got underway with no interference from the elements. As was the case on the opening leg yesterday, not a single cloud was forecast by the Kronos Total Citroen team's technical partner, Meteo France. Blue skies, dry roads.
Running on slightly softer BFGoodrich tyres than his rival, Seb charged into battle from the very start of the `Vico' stage (SS5), which was narrow and dusty. He exploited the tyres to their maximum, accepting that they would inevitably be more worn for the shorter `Bastelica' stage (SS6). It was a winning strategy, as during the morning loop of stages Seb stretched his lead by nearly 10 seconds. Moving onto harder tyres in order to combat the warmer temperatures of the afternoon, he underlined his authority by winning `Vico 2' (SS7) and finishing runner-up to Dani Sordo on `Bastelica 2' (SS8) : a solid end to a masterful day.
Seb commented : "I went quickly on the first stage of the day, and then I adapted my rhythm to match that of Marcus. I think he has calmed things down a bit. I was a bit more comfortable too, as is always the case when you have a bit of a lead. And the Xsara is truly a fantastic car when the going is really narrow and twisty... "
Dani Sordo started the day fifth, having lost half a minute yesterday morning, and was determined to attack. He accomplished his mission with another fastest time (his second in a World Rally Car) and three second places in four stages. "I had no problems the car worked well and my feeling with it was fantastic, " he said. "I just noticed a bit of understeer at the end of SS7, probably because I had overheated the tyres. Knowing how to look after them is just one of the things I have to learn. But in `Bastelica' everything felt fantastic. Tomorrow I will see what Mikko (Hirvonen) does...it would be good to stay on the podium. "
Xevi Pons, the Kronos team's third musketeer, used the same soft tyres as Sebastien on the first leg and also had to look after them carefully in `Bastelica'. During the second loop, the Spaniard had a brief moment on `Vico' (SS7) that damaged the rear bumper "There was no harm done, but nonetheless it made me think, " reported Xevi. "Alex Bengue is only eight seconds in front so it may be possible to make up another place. In the meantime I'm not going to tempt fate. After my mishap in Spain, I'm determined to be at the finish tomorrow in order to collect the maximum number of manufacturer points possible for the team... "