Day 2: provisional gold and silver for Citroen The long second day of the 2008 Rallye Deutschland concluded this evening with the two Citroen Total C4 WRCs sitting on the top two steps of the overnight podium and in a strong position to pull off...
Day 2: provisional gold and silver for Citroen
The long second day of the 2008 Rallye Deutschland concluded this evening with the two Citroen Total C4 WRCs sitting on the top two steps of the overnight podium and in a strong position to pull off a handsome medals haul tomorrow. Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who emerged in front after SS1 on Friday, spent the day comforting their lead, while Dani Sordo/Marc Marti brilliantly recovered second spot before setting about pulling further clear of the driver in third place.
With a competitive distance of 159.76km on the programme, today's action accounted for almost half of the event's total stage mileage and was based on a format of four tests to be covered once in the morning and then again in the afternoon. The group's first three stages snaked through the Saarland region near Sankt Wendel, before a remote service zone in Birkenfeld followed by the infamous Panzerplatte test across the Baumholder military ranges.
The mood of both Citroen C4 WRC crews was buoyant after the morning's loop: "Today's terrain was very different from yesterday's, but the conditions stayed dry again," reported Sebastien Loeb at the lunchtime break. "We got off to a good start and my C4 WRC is handling just as nicely as it did on Friday. Thanks to the work of everyone in the team, we also got the morning's two tyre calls spot on, namely Pirelli 'Softs' for the three stages up to the remote service zone, then 'Hards' for the harder-wearing tank-testing tracks. The result was excellent. We have pulled even further clear of our main rival in the World Championship and Dani and Marc are holding second place, so that's all very positive. We just had one scary moment this morning when we brushed a hay-bail that formed part of a chicane in one particularly fast portion. It wasn't in the same position as it was during recce."
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti effectively profited from the day's opening loop to recover provisional second with their C4 WRC. "I reverted to a set-up with which I felt much more comfortable," explained the Spanish youngster. "My car performed much better and I was more confident, so it was easier to push hard! We reclaimed second place after SS7 and we then set about consolidating our position. There's still a long way to go today, but it's been a great start."
The afternoon's loop did nothing to change the order at the leaderboard's sharp end, except for the fact that the Double Chevron pair succeeded in pulling even further clear. "The best way to stay concentrated is to keep pushing," said the reigning World Champion. "The stages are cleaner than in previous years and I have the utmost confidence in my C4, so it was best to keep going at the same pace and try to build up some more breathing space for tomorrow. We've rarely had such a dry Rallye Deutschland and everything has gone very well so far. If the order stays the same all the way to the finish after tomorrow's five stages, it will be an excellent result for us and the team in the two championships."
Dani and Marc echoed their team-mate's thoughts: "Prior to this afternoon's loop, our closest chaser was 14.4 seconds behind us," calculated Dani. "Our lead is now up to 1m 4s. We didn't push quite so hard second round, but that didn't stop us from making the most of the potential of our C4 over this terrain, although I have to say that this really isn't my favourite asphalt event; there are far too many junctions! It's been a positive day and along with the Citroen Sport technical staff we succeeded in finding a set-up which suited me perfectly."
"I couldn't be more pleased than I am this evening," admitted Olivier Quesnel. "Both Citroen C4 WRCs performed faultlessly and our two crews succeeded in making maximum use of their potential. Sebastien and Daniel continued in the same vein as yesterday and Dani and Marc lost no time recovering second place. We could be on for a top result tomorrow, but we need to stay concentrated until the very end..."