Midday wrap: Loeb's looking good at the front Sebastien Loeb extended his lead through this morning's opening loop of asphalt Catalunya Rally stages. The Citroen Total World Rally Team leader started the day with fastest time from...
Midday wrap: Loeb's looking good at the front
Sebastien Loeb extended his lead through this morning's opening loop of asphalt Catalunya Rally stages.
The Citroen Total World Rally Team leader started the day with fastest time from second-placed Sebastien Ogier, allowing Loeb to further his advantage at the front of the field to 8.2 seconds. "The end of the stage was quite wet," said Loeb. "We had to be careful. The important thing is that we beat [Sebastien] Ogier."
Ogier wasn't entirely happy with his C4 WRC and was in determined mood when he arrived at the start of the ensuing La Mussara test. The Rally Japan winner was flying through the early part of the stage, but crashed off the road at the 16km point after mishearing a pace note and taking a left-hander too quickly. His Citroen collected right-hand rear damage in the accident, which cost him 15 minutes.
That mistake from the younger of the two Sebastiens left Loeb with clear air between himself and the driver in second place. And that second place was taken on SS8 by Citroen driver Petter Solberg. The Norwegian dispatched Jari-Matti Latvala's Ford Focus RS WRC on the opener and was, therefore, the chief beneficiary when Ogier's big attack went awry.
Solberg's own morning hadn't been perfect. "We had some problems with the tyres in the first stage," he said, "then I made a mistake at the start of the second stage and I couldn't recover."
Latvala remained third, playing himself into the super-smooth asphalt after yesterday's gravel stages. The Finn was, however, well aware that Loeb's team-mate Dani Sordo was fast recovering from a steady opening day - and now looming large in his rear-view mirror.
The Spaniard arrived back in Salou just six seconds behind the Ford after Sordo posted second fastest times in stages eight and nine. "It's better this morning," said Sordo. "I feel well on the asphalt."
Not feeling quite as well on the asphalt was Ford man Mikko Hirvonen, who was Sordo's first victim this morning. "The tyres were getting too warm in the first one," said the slightly dejected Hirvonen, whose Ford ended the morning loop 12 down on Sordo.
Matthew Wilson's Stobart Focus rounded out the top six.
The fight for this year's Junior World Rally Championship took what could be a decisive turn this morning, when Aaron Burkart slid off the road at the end of the day's opening test. The Suzuki driver was battling to move up the order from third to first when a front wheel came off his Swift and sent him down a bank.
Burkart said: "Obviously, I am quite upset. We had a good stage, but now this. I didn't hit any stones or anything. Okay, there were some aggressive cuts, but nothing too bad. I'm very disappointed."
Burkart's demise plays into the hands of Hans Weijs Jr, who can now throttle back and cruise to the finish to collect the Junior title.