Loeb and Sordo solidly in front... At the end of leg two, run largely through the Baumholder military ranges, SÃ©bastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti have a firm grip on first and second places. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio were ...
Loeb and Sordo solidly in front...
At the end of leg two, run largely through the Baumholder military ranges, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti have a firm grip on first and second places. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio were forced to retire after SS12 with a hydraulic problem. They will restart tomorrow morning under the `superally' regulations.
Having got to the end of the first day with a considerable advantage, the Kronos Total Citroen WRT duo were determined to hang onto it. The weather conditions were more predictable than the previous day, making the tyre choice for the first loop of stages held in the Saarland region (Bosenberg, SS9) and Baumholder (Panzerplatte, SS10) reasonably straightforward. On medium compound dry rubber the two Xsaras ran faultlessly throughout the opening section, with Dani Sordo claiming his fourth stage win of the event in Panzerplatte.
The second loop of stages were run entirely within the Baumholder complex, adding Erzweiler (SS11) to another run through Panzerplatte (SS12). This shorter stage was still a big challenge for tyres because of its abrasive surface. Having chosen to take the loop carefully, Seb and Dani adjusted their pace to respond to that of their closest rivals and emerged with a slightly increased advantage.
This margin allowed them to play safe on the third and final loop by choosing soft BFGoodrich tyres. The softer rubber meant that Seb and Dani deliberately sacrificed performance on the aggressive Erzweiler 2 (SS13) in favour of safety on Bosenberg 2 (SS14) in case of wet conditions. Although the skies were threatening, rain never materialised and the two Citroens lost about 20 seconds during the loop. Nonetheless, Seb ended the day by claiming the final spectator superspecial at St Wendel (SS15).
"The second half of the day was easier than the first half, " said Dani at final service. "We just drove calmly. I really hope I can seal this second place tomorrow. A result like that would be fantastic for me and would fulfil exactly what the team asked. "
Seb concluded : " Dani was very quick this morning in tricky conditions. This afternoon we were thinking more about the championships. Maintaining our positions would be extremely positive both for Kronos and ourselves, before we go to face Marcus Grönholm on his home territory in Finland. We have to be extremely careful on the final leg now, where the weather could make life very complicated... "
While the day was entirely under control and trouble-free for Seb and Dani, the same could not be said for Xevi Pons. The Spaniard was slowed by suspension damage after clipping a rock on a left-hand bend in Panzerplatte (SS10). Then on Erzweiler 1 (SS11) he encountered a problem with the semi-automatic gearshift command : a prelude to the hydraulic problem that stopped him at the end of the leg. "Up to now, it's really been a rally to forget for me, " said Xevi philosophically.
"Tomorrow we will start again in order to try and finish this rally on a positive note by setting some quick times... "
The final leg of the Rallye Deutschland is short, in order to allow the teams to set off for Finland as soon as possible. Four stages totalling 70 kilometres remain. Seb and Dani will be hoping to steer clear of trouble and convert their impressive dominance into a precious one-two...
-credit: kronos racing