The Xsara is still leading After today's action packed second leg of Telstra Rally Australia, SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena on board their Xsara WRC returned to Perth's Parc fermÃ© still lying first overall. The young French team-mates...
The Xsara is still leading
After today's action packed second leg of Telstra Rally Australia, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena on board their Xsara WRC returned to Perth's Parc fermé still lying first overall. The young French team-mates fought all day with customary grit to defend their leading position. And tomorrow they will have to attack, and resist their pursuer's assaults on the 117 km of Bannister's special stages, where the roads are covered with ball bearing like gravel.
Sébastien felt extremely satisfied with his Xsara
Sébastien started this morning from Perth with a 3,9 seconds margin over Petter Solberg who attacked straight away. After the two first stages of the day, Seb's lead was reduced. As proof of the hard fight between the two "young guns", they had the same overall time after stage 12. But "icy-cool" Seb' pulled 2,6 seconds clear of his rival on stage 13. Petter reacted by setting the fastest time in the following stage, but the Citroën driver kept a 2,1 s margin after the loop. Sébastien still felt extremely satisfied with his Xsara's balance and he was content with harder tyres for the next group of stages.
We had some very hot moments
The dual started again with Solberg catching up with Seb, lying only 1,1 s behind him after stage 15. But the French driver was fastest on the next three stages: Séb' took advantage of his increased knowledge of the roads on the second pass through the stages. Seb' led by 5,4 s before the two super special stages at Gloucester Park. "We had some very hot moments today in the car, explained Seb' at the final service. But we kept our concentration and attacked 100%. Our harder tyre choice was right because in the second pass through they suffered more than the softer compound we used before."
There is still a long way to go
Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae intended to score valuable points and catch up with Markko Märtin and Tommi Mäkinen. With brakes back to full efficiency, the Scot succeeded in overtaking the Finn when he set third fastest time on stage 18. "It's not too bad. I had to get my confidence back and then get back in the pace."
Carlos Sainz would probably have caught Tommi Mäkinen without a misheard pacenote which led to him going off the road. (SS16). The Spanish crew had to slalom between the trees to get back on the tracks and lost about fifteen seconds. "The balance of the car is really suiting me now. I will attack until the end tomorrow. There is still a long way to go and we can hope for a good result ..."