SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC have moved up two places today, rising from fifth to third position. Out of the fight for the overall win due to yesterday's misadventure, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti have fulfilled their double ...
Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC have moved up two places today, rising from fifth to third position. Out of the fight for the overall win due to yesterday's misadventure, Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti have fulfilled their double mission with exemplary conscientiousness : chasing more Manufacturers' points while testing tyres and other options to give the team more information and hence to help Sébastien.
Eleventh on the road this morning, the young French driver was finally able to drive on a clean road, without all the gravel and dirt which slowed his progress so much yesterday. The results were not long in coming : claiming "Amfissa", the first special stage of the day, the Citroën driver gave the best possible starting shot in a thrilling three-way battle between him, Harri Rovanperä and François Duval.
Behind Petter Solberg, who appears unattainable, the three drivers were involved in a close fight, separated only by seconds, for the two remaining podium positions. Seb put up some solid arguments : two fastest times, three second-fastest and one third place on the day's seven special stages ! It is quite obvious that the Xsara and its team of drivers are perfectly at ease. With an audacious tyre choice, he could even have pulled off a fine coup in the last loop of the day, if the forecast rain had finally arrived … " I pushed hard all day, and I will continue tomorrow," a determined Seb said during the evening's service time. "My Xsara is perfect, second place is within reach, and I will do everything I can to claim it…"
In sixteenth position according to today's starting order, Carlos Sainz was also able to take advantage of good road conditions, which allowed him to adopt a steady pace. With no illusions concerning his eventual classification, the Spaniard has placed himself entirely at the team's disposal. " It's quite normal. The needs of Citroën come first. I know the importance of the Manufacturers' Championship, and that every point counts in this very close competition! " The ability to keep his motivation intact despite fate being against him is one of the qualities that Guy Fréquelin particularly appreciates : "I have thanked Carlos ! Once more, he has shown irreproachable professionalism, worthy of the great champion that he is ! "
Starting tomorrow at dawn, the third leg is definitely not a mere formality, with nearly one hundred kilometres of timed stages located to the north-west of Lamia. The very tricky loop, which will be run twice, includes "Styrfaka", a totally new special stage, which could be rather difficult, according to Daniel Elena, Sébastien's co-driver.
Therefore, the rest of this thrilling three-way match is awaited impatiently, with the podium as the final objective. And the progress of Carlos Sainz will also be watched carefully. Holding one Manufacturers' point in the morning, the Spaniard had increased that to three by the evening, and intends to do all he can to keep them until the finish line…