Saturday wrap: Sordo on the up but Loeb's still out front During the second afternoon of the Rallye de Espana, Dani Sordo finally came alive: but was it too little, too late? For reasons that he could not quite put his finger on, the Spaniard...
Saturday wrap: Sordo on the up but Loeb's still out front
During the second afternoon of the Rallye de Espana, Dani Sordo finally came alive: but was it too little, too late?
For reasons that he could not quite put his finger on, the Spaniard was on strangely muted form until he made some set-up changes and attacked throughout the afternoon.
He won SS10 and was just a tenth of a second slower than his illustrious team mate Sebastien Loeb on the following stage, to take third place from Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala.
There was no movement on the first two places though, with Loeb continuing to serenely lead Solberg on the final stages of the day with a trouble-free run. "It's been a great day and we have a good lead," concluded the Frenchman. "We've had some fun in the stages but we're not taking any big risks."
Solberg said that he had settled for second after ending the day 44 seconds behind the newly crowned seven-time World Rally Champion. The privateer Citroen driver ended Saturday on a high by winning the final televised stage, but he has discounted all hopes of victory. "I'm not kidding myself," said Solberg. "Second place is the best I can hope for here and actually if we do that it will be a very good achievement. But we have to keep trying, so I'll be pushing until the very last stage. You never, ever give up."
A bigger concern for Solberg is Sordo behind him, who is aiming to finish second behind Loeb, thus continuing the pattern that has been in place on the Catalunya Rally since 2006. Sordo has not entirely seen off the threat from Latvala either, who is aiming to get back on the podium after losing his way slightly on the final 16.32-kilometre stage of the day.
"The stage was actually better for me the second time round this afternoon compared to this morning," said Latvala. "Unfortunately I made a mistake on the roundabout where I didn't quite know where to go; maybe because there were so many people around!"
But the situation was far worse for his team mate Mikko Hirvonen, who dropped time when a turbo pipe on his Ford Focus detached itself on the opening stage of the afternoon loop. The Finn lost more than 10 minutes on the 26-kilometre stage and held up Dani Sordo in the process, who reminded Hirvonen he was there with a timely tap up the rear bumper of the Focus.
"I didn't see him there and I'm sorry for that," said Hirvonen. The Ford crew managed to reattach the loose pipe prior to the last two stages in order to keep fifth place, albeit a long way behind Latvala in fourth.
The two biggest losers of the day were Sebastien Ogier, who ruled himself out of contention after deranging the suspension of his Citroen C4 WRC, and Munchi's driver Federico Villagra, who retired after a fanbelt problem caused the water temperature to rise on his Ford Focus. Villagra is expected to restart under the SupeRally system tomorrow.