Leg 2: Citroen and Loeb move up to 2nd place in Greece The end of the second leg of the 2007 Acropolis Rally has seen Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena ease into second place at the wheel of their C4 WRC. The excellent run of Dani Sordo...
Leg 2: Citroen and Loeb move up to 2nd place in Greece
The end of the second leg of the 2007 Acropolis Rally has seen Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena ease into second place at the wheel of their C4 WRC. The excellent run of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti came to an untimely end however on the morning's SS12 following gearbox trouble shortly after the Spanish pair had moved up to fourth overall.
Today's leg was the longest of the weekend with a total competitive distance of 146km divided into eight stages, three of them run twice, including the daunting 48.88km Agii Theodori test. One of the day's other two stages was based near the service park and the other used the local hippodrome.
As dusk began to take some of the sting out of the sun's heat, Guy Frequelin's furrowed brow was a sure sign that the Citroen Sport team's day had been far from easy. "It has indeed been a rather difficult day for us," he admitted. "It began well though when Sebastien and Dani profited from the potential of the Citroen C4 WRC over the day's extremely long opening stage to move up the leaderboard. The result could have been even better had Seb not been forced to lift following a puncture and if Dani hadn't been compelled to spend quite some time in the dust of Jari-Matti Latvala who re-started just ahead of him after stopping to change a wheel. That wasn't very sportsmanlike. Even so, our situation didn't look too bad at the Loutraki remote service halt: it was a little later in the morning that it started to get a little more complex..."
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti effectively failed to reap the benefits of a particularly fine run when they were forced to park up on SS12. "Coming out of a right-hand corner, I wasn't able to select a gear," related the unfortunate Spaniard. "I'm so disappointed. For Citroen first of all, because I was hoping to score a good result for the team, but also for myself of course. I take comfort however in the stage times I succeeded in posting this weekend and also from the fact that I was able to mix it with the best of them on gravel and keep up with the leading pack, which is important for the loose surface rallies still to come. I just hope I'm a little luckier next time..."
Guy Frequelin's comments echoed Dani's disappointment: "Sadly, his good run wasn't rewarded but his times confirm the progress he began to show in Argentina and then again in Sardinia. He is still young and needs to gain more experience but he has shown that he can take the fight to his far more battle-hardened rivals, and that's exactly what I've been expecting of him."
Sebastien Loeb's task took a difficult turn shortly after he passed into second spot following a fastest time on SS11. He failed to defend that position on the next two tests and decided to change the set-up of his car at the lunchtime service halt in a bid to find more grip. Calculating from the split times, that allowed him to pass 'virtually' back into second spot on the first stage of the afternoon's loop before his attempt was thwarted by two punctures close to the end of the long test. "I was pushing very, very hard because I believed I could open up a big gap over this 48.88 km stage. But ten or so kilometres from the finish I realised that both my front tyres had punctured. Thanks to the BFGoodrich's run-flat mousse system, I was able to reach the end of the stage but I was forced to slow my pace quite a lot..."
Despite ground temperatures of up to 45C, and more than 40C in the cabin, Seb refused to throw in the towel. "I knew it wouldn't be easy but I was determined to keep pushing during the rest of the afternoon and that ended up paying since we are back in second place again this evening." "Seb and Daniel's untiring efforts have paid dividends. They gave it everything they had this afternoon and that's brought a smile back to the faces of everyone in the team. But remember, there are still 75km of stages to come tomorrow and, on such a punishing terrain, it can still go either way... and that concerns us as much as it does our rivals," concluded Guy Frequelin.