WRC

Rally Japan: Citroen leg two summary

Leg 2: Back to the square one... For Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, the second leg of the 2007 Rally Japan turned out to be just as troubled as the weather that had moved in over the Obihiro region during the night. The morning's third stage...

Leg 2: Back to the square one...

For Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, the second leg of the 2007 Rally Japan turned out to be just as troubled as the weather that had moved in over the Obihiro region during the night. The morning's third stage saw their challenge come to a halt when their Citroen C4 WRC left the road, an incident that puts them back into the situation they had been in prior to the start of the Rallye Catalunya. There was a comforting ray of sunshine in the Citroen Sport camp, however, since Spaniards Dani Sordo and Marc Marti are up to second overall with their Citroen C4 WRC.

With a programme of 146.68km of competitive action, today's leg was the longest of the 2007 World Rally Championship's 14th round. It essentially comprised of a loop of four stages to be contested twice each, although the afternoon's run was shortened by 17.76km after the length of Sipirkakim 2 was reduced. The day concluded with two more visits to the Obihiro super- special which started at 6 and 6.10pm respectively to bring an end to the marathon day which had begun at 3.30am for the Citroen Sport squad!

On paper, the day's first attempt at the Niueo stage (SS13) did not appear to be that difficult and Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were in second place just 10.5s behind the leader, still had every chance of securing a good result to boost their chances in the chase for the 2007 Drivers' title. However, an off shortly after the start of the test decided otherwise...

"After Marcus Gronholm's retirement yesterday, even finishing second would have given us enough points to regain the lead in the Drivers' championship," explained Sebastien. "I felt very confident following the changes we made to the set-up of my Citroen C4 yesterday and, although I wasn't taking any undue risks, I hadn't given up the idea of trying to take the lead. Then, approaching a right-hand corner, Daniel got a note wrong and we were too quick into the turn. We swiped a tree with the rear left of the car and fell down a bank. The front end of the car came to a stop in some branches but the rear wheels were still on the stage. The car was practically unscathed and we did all we could to manhandle it back onto the road, but to no avail. It's a tremendous disappointment of course but we are still in contention for the title. The idea of now having to win both the remaining rounds is quite stimulating."

In the service park, Guy Frequelin had trouble concealing his disappointment: "Sebastien and Daniel went off following a wrongly announced pacenote. If they had finished second here, they could have settled for second in Ireland and Wales. As it is, they will now need to win both these events. We're back to where we were before the Rallye Catalunya, except there are now just two rounds remaining instead of five! Mistakes are human. The time difference, the timing of this event and the challenging nature of the stages all contribute to making this sort of incident possible. It's Daniel's first mistake in 10 years. I've told him to put it behind him and concentrate on the important job that lies ahead."

In the second Citroen Total car, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti enjoyed a successful second day. "With so much mud about it certainly wasn't easy," reported Dani. "The amount of grip available changed all the time but I managed to find a quick pace that enabled us to set some good times. There's still a day left for me to gain more experience of this type of conditions while at the same time trying to defend second place..."

-credit: citroen.com

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Guy Frequelin , Daniel Elena , Marc Marti
Teams Citroën World Rally Team