Leg 1: Loeb and Elena on target The weather encountered during the first leg of the 2007 Wales Rally GB, the last round of the season, seemed to go from bad to worse. At the end of what turned out to an awesome opening day, Citroen C4 WRC crews...
Leg 1: Loeb and Elena on target
The weather encountered during the first leg of the 2007 Wales Rally GB, the last round of the season, seemed to go from bad to worse. At the end of what turned out to an awesome opening day, Citroen C4 WRC crews Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti returned to the service park in Swansea in overnight third and fifth positions.
Without rain, mud, wind and fog, Wales Rally GB probably wouldn't be Wales Rally GB and today saw that tradition respected to the letter! The three stages that made up today's loop through the Neath Valley to the northeast of the Swansea service park were contested twice each for a total of 140.80km of competitive action featured every one of these ingredients.
"This is never an easy event," warned Guy Frequelin who was perhaps even more apprehensive than usual before hostilities got underway. "How could I not be anxious? We have a chance of winning the Drivers' World Championship and the outcome will be decided here in the forests of South Wales which probably pack more potential pitfalls than any other rally! The stages are very complex. They are very fast and the amount of grip available changes all the time. You need to find a rhythm that enables you not to get caught out. Sebastien and Daniel did that very well today, but there are still two days to go..."
The Citroen pair, who top the provisional Drivers' Championship standings, set out for the first leg determined not to squander their chances of securing a fourth straight crown. "We have a lead of six points over Marcus Gronholm. If he wins, we mustn't finish any lower than fifth to make sure of the title," underlined Seb this morning before the start at the wheel of his Citroen C4 WRC. "For once, I didn't set out with the intention of winning. It would have been stupid to throw everything away by trying to take the lead. We spent the day trying to adapt our pace to the difficulty of the stages and how we felt. Despite the thick fog that marked this morning's stages, for example, I had confidence in my notes and I managed to find a good pace. I didn't take any risks through the muddier parts where braking was very tricky, though. I tried not to cut across the deepest ditches and did what I could to avoid the rocks. There is still a long way to go but I'm glad today is behind us."
"Stages shrouded in thick fog wasn't the easiest way to start the Wales Rally GB," recognised Dani Sordo. "I managed to find a quick but safe pace, though, and my confidence gradually returned. Our Citroen C4 WRC performed perfectly; it's just me who needs to loosen up a bit. That said, the stages are so slippery and so difficult that it would be easy to make a mistake, and that's the last thing I want to do..."