Loeb and Sordo looking good for a one-two The second day of the 2009 Rally Argentina has played into the hands of Citroen Total World Rally Team. After turning on the speed this morning, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena succeeded in taking...
Loeb and Sordo looking good for a one-two
The second day of the 2009 Rally Argentina has played into the hands of Citroen Total World Rally Team. After turning on the speed this morning, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena succeeded in taking control thanks to a faultless display over the South American round's classic El Condor and Mina Clavero stages. Despite running first on the road today, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti are second overall this evening.
The second leg of the 2009 Rally Argentina was as long as the first and took crews southwest of Villa Carlos Paz to the notorious El Condor, Giulio Cesare and Mina Clavero stages which have long been highlights for the aficionados. The day's menu comprised two identical loops of four tests stages before concluding with the weekend's second visit to the super-special at Cordoba Stadium.
Following the previous day's rain, the stages were essentially damp, but that didn't prevent the World Championship pacesetters Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena from making their mark. A faultless performance from the five-time champs saw them ease ahead after SS12 (El Condor-Copina) before checking into the lunchtime service halt in Villa Carlos Paz with a cushion of 7.3 seconds over Mikko Hirvonen. "It's obviously easier when you're not first on the road," admitted Sebastien. "That said, I don't think the road-sweeping factor played as a big role as it did yesterday. The conditions were damp, and even muddy in places, but that suited me down to the ground and I was able to push hard enough to recover the lead. Our only problem this morning was a scare on the opening stage. I had failed to note a jump on a particularly fast portion and it caught me by surprise. Our Citroen C4 WRC took off in a big way but, happily, we came out of it unscathed..."
"We are only seven seconds clear of Mikko, so the gap is still quite small and we can't afford to lift," continued the French driver. "This afternoon's loop won't be easy. The stages are quite twisty and the ground is fairly soft, so there's a tendency for ruts to form and we won't be able to profit from the full width of the road. Even so, it's always an impressive feeling competing in such lunar scenery in front of literally hundreds of thousands of spectators; there are times when you can actually smell their barbecues inside the car..."
Overnight leaders Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were third overall at the lunchtime break: "I can't say I'm disappointed. I expected this morning to be tough but I managed to stay on the heels of Seb and Mikko despite being first on the road. At the same time, I didn't have the benefit of their split times which would have given me an idea of how fast they were both going. We're only halfway into the event, so it's still too soon to be thinking in terms of lifting. I will continue to push as hard as I can."
Mechanical problems for Mikko Hirvonen during the afternoon saw the event take a different turn. The Finn's run came to a halt on SS15, leaving Sebastien and Dani clear in front. After that, the two C4 WRC drivers made a point of not taking any unwarranted risks and ended up finishing the day in first and second places. "We've got a lead of a minute and a half over Jari-Matti Latvala, so it's looking pretty good," smiled Sebastien this evening. "Sunday's stages aren't easy, but there are only 48km of competitive action remaining, so I think we should be able to control from in front."
"My intention is to hold on to second place," added Dani. "Latvala is only 40 seconds behind but I should hopefully be able to keep him at bay. It's looking good for a one-two finish for Citroen, and that would be an excellent result for our World Championship chances."