Loeb and Elena close in on victory
After the opening day on gravel, Rally Spain continued today on the Catalonian tarmac. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were in the lead at the end of the first leg, controlled the gap to their pursuers. Their performance enabled them to bag the only record still lacking in their incredible results – the highest number of fastest times! Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are lying fifth after another puncture bringing the Citroën Total World Rally Team a step closer to their seventh world title.
Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier tackled the second day of Rally Spain in their Citroën DS3 WRCs converted into tarmac setup. The day’s three stages to be covered twice represented a total of 144 timed kilometers.
Loeb started the day with a new record by setting the fastest time in El Priorat, the longest stage of the rally. He was quickest again in Riba-Roja del Ebre, the seven-time world champion’s 802nd fastest time in the WRC, beating Markku Alen’s previous record.
Loeb and Elena controlled the race as they pleased with an intelligent combination of attack and calculated risks: “We had a good run. The roads were clean in the first loop but a bit dirtier in the afternoon. We didn’t take any risks, as we didn’t want to lose everything. We had to drive cleanly and not clip the apexes. Second time through I preferred to use the dirtier parts of the road rather than cutting the corners.”
“Tomorrow, we’ll have to tackle the stages in the same spirit. I’ll be especially careful in the first one, as the ground will be very cold. Jari-Matti Latvala is pushing hard, but we’re sure that second place will go to Mikko Hirvonen. The only thing we have to do is to make it to the end and stay in front,” summed up the overall leader.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia had a more problematic day due to a puncture midway through SS7. “We started out with the aim of catching Mikko Hirvonen, but the second puncture stopped us in our momentum. We’re now over three minutes behind so there’s not a lot left to hope for,” explained Ogier. “Yesterday, it was my fault but today I don’t understand what happened as we didn’t cut the corner. Now our aim is to finish the rally and score points for Citroën.”
As the current overall classification stands, Citroën is on the way to winning its seventh manufacturers’ title. “The situation is as good for us as it was yesterday, but we’ll have to confirm tomorrow and ensure that we score the results we need,” stated Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. If Sébastien Loeb wins again tomorrow, he’ll open up a small gap in the drivers’ championship but Mikko Hirvonen is still a big threat for the title. The pressure’s there but it’s positive pressure, which drives us to give our very best!”
There are still another six stages to go including the Power Stage in Coll de la Teixita for which extra points will be awarded.