WRC

Acropolis Rally: Citroen leg 1 notes

At the end of the first leg, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC returned to the Lamia parc fermé in fifth position. Delayed by a broken shock absorber, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti are still in position to claim points towards the ...

At the end of the first leg, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC returned to the Lamia parc fermé in fifth position. Delayed by a broken shock absorber, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti are still in position to claim points towards the Manufacturers' Championship.

The prospect of an edition of the Acropolis Rally with uncertain weather conditions and even rain, appears highly improbable, but… The mud encountered during the reconnaissance proved that the skies had not been totally blue over the rocky sides of Mount Parnassus during the previous days. This morning's sun did not prevent the skies from clouding over. A heavy shower took place around SS5 and 6. At the time when Sébastien Loeb had to choose his tyres for the last loop of the day, within the allocated three minutes, Sébastien Loeb did not know that the rain was falling once more on "Pavliani", the next special stage…

Until then, Seb, who was opening the road, had coped quite well with his job of 'sweeper'. It is true that he had been penalised in some sections, as proved by the split times. But he still had scored a pair of second-fastest times (SS 4 and 5). The special stages in the last loop of the day having already been run once, the French driver had hoped to find a clean road for the first time. He selected the new Michelin TDE tyres, wide, with plenty of hard rubber on the ground. The rain turned this choice into a mistake. Sébastien lost precious time, but still managed to limit the damage by setting another 'second time' on stage 8 : " The lost time due to sweeping the road goes with my Championship position. I accept that. However, I do regret our tyre choice, which has increased the gap between us and Petter Solberg. This evening, we are 25 seconds from second place, which would be an excellent result. That is what we have to aim for !"

For Carlos Sainz, bad luck turned into a shock absorber problem, which happened at the start of the long loop. " Everything started three kilometres after leaving Pavliani, explained the Madrid based driver. "I was very careful in the rough sections but I suddenly was aware of an oil smell … the fixture of the remote damper reservoir would have come loose and broke." With the suspension held on by a strap, Carlos had to drive very slowly to finish the loop. The next service was of the kind that stays in people's minds, and the mechanics received an ovation when the car got going again. A long way back in the overall classification, the double World Champion still has a precious point in the Manufacturers' classification this evening. His aim is to keep it, or even gain one or two more, circumstances permitting : " My job is now to drive for the team. I will do everything I can to be as useful as possible… "

-citroen-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Petter Solberg , Sébastien Loeb , Daniel Elena , Marc Marti
Teams Citroën World Rally Team