Loeb wins the `battle of Panzerplatte' The CitroÃ«n Total World Rally Team tightened its stranglehold on Rally Germany on the second day of the event. SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have led since the first stage, are well on their way to...
Loeb wins the `battle of Panzerplatte'
The Citroën Total World Rally Team tightened its stranglehold on Rally Germany on the second day of the event. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have led since the first stage, are well on their way to racking up their eighth consecutive victory in Rally Germany. Dani Sordo and Diego Vallejo, thirty seconds behind their team-mates have consolidated their second place. The Citroën C4 WRCs look set to score a triple as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have fought their way up to third place.
The second day of Rally Germany with its 185 timed kilometres was a demanding one for the crews who left the Trier service park at 6h30. In brilliant sunlight they set off to tackle three stages. After a service stop at Birkenfeld, a remote service zone, the rally continued with the longest stage in the world championship: Panzerplatte a 48-kilometre challenge in a military camp on rough concrete roads.
In the first three stages, Loeb and Sordo played a cat and mouse game! Seb set the quickest time in Hermeskeil (SS7), but Dani fought back in S. Wendeler Land (SS8) and got to within 7.7s of his team- mate. But the Frenchman wasn't having any and the seven-time winner of the event went flat out in Freisen (SS9) posting another fastest time of the day. The C4 WRCs arrived in Birkenfeld separated by 10.8s.
The Panzerplatte stage that most of the drivers were not looking forward to was to prove decisive in the duel between Loeb and Sordo. Loeb used the full potential of his C4 WRC shod with the hard Pirelli P-Zero tyres to the full, and set the fastest time, 12.2s in front of Sordo. "I was surprised by the dampness in the first few kilometers," explained the Spaniard; "The time it took me to see that I wasn't in the right rhythm and Seb had already pulled out 5s. I tried to push, but I wasn't able to close the gap and I lost more time at the end. There's now twenty-five seconds between us and it's a whole different race."
"We managed to make the break and that's going to make the rest of the rally a bit easier," laughed Loeb. "I wasn't able to push from one end to the other, as the tyres couldn't have coped with it. I just had to find the happy medium in these conditions. I have to add that this performance wouldn't have been possible without my C4 WRC, which had a perfectly-balanced setup."
But there was no time to sit back and relax as the crews still has another four stages to go. Loeb was more interested in maintaining his lead rather than increasing it, and he finished the day feeling that he had done a good job: "We put on soft tyres for the first three stages. It was a different choice to Dani's and our rivals, but I wanted to see what would happen. All things taken into account, we set almost the same times. We've finished today with a lead of over thirty seconds on our team-mates, and that couldn't be better as we tackle the final stages tomorrow."
Dani, who set two more fastest times in SS12 and SS13, was also very happy with his day : "We're well on the way to giving the Citroën Total World Rally Team another double. It'll be a great result for me and Diego Vallejo, my new co-driver. Seb was really on another planet today, but we've managed to increase our lead over all the other drivers. We'll have to finish the job tomorrow!