Day 2: Citroen's samurais on target to meet their objectives The second leg of the 2008 Rally Japan took place in sunny weather and saw Citroen Sport enjoy a particularly positive run. Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their C4 WRC succeeded in...
Day 2: Citroen's samurais on target to meet their objectives
The second leg of the 2008 Rally Japan took place in sunny weather and saw Citroen Sport enjoy a particularly positive run. Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their C4 WRC succeeded in consolidating their third place which, if the situation remains unchanged tomorrow, will be enough to hand them a fifth consecutive World Championship title. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti put in a strong performance, too, as they carved their way back up the leaderboard in the Citroen Total squad's second car.
With a total competitive distance of 156.78km on the menu, the second day accounted for half the event's total stage mileage. The terrain was also very varied, with two short stages (Imeru/2.57km, and Kina/9.55km) sandwiching the longer Nikara and Kamuycep tests (31.12km and 33.66km respectively). These four stages were contested twice each before crews rounded off the day with two attempts at the Sapporo Dome super-special.
Of the nine virtues listed in the Bushido code of honour which governs the life of all samurais, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena demonstrated two in the course of their performance today. Seigyo, to begin with, which consists in controlling one's instincts, and the instinct of Seb and Daniel is generally to go as quickly as possible! "It's no secret that I prefer competing to win," smiled Sebastien at the final service park. "Today, though, it was necessary to keep a cool head. The forest tracks to the south of Sapporo were just as narrow as those we visited on Day 1, but they were faster, too, which means we ran a higher risk of making a mistake."
Seb and Daniel added Ken to their gift for self control, Ken being the sense of humility dear to the samurais. "Whenever I felt that the conditions were a little too treacherous, I didn't hesitate to brake earlier than normal," admitted the four-time World Champion. "There's a great deal at stake here and I didn't want it risk throwing it all away; we just tried to stay focused on our objective which was to consolidate our third place, and I think we succeeded quite well. There is a little less than 100km of stages to come tomorrow. The goal we are aiming for is within reach, but we will need to stay concentrated until the very end."
Samurai values were equally present inside the cockpit of the No.2 Citroen C4 WRC, with Dani Sordo and Marc Marti showing true Yuukan, namely bravery. "Following our turbo problem yesterday," related Dani, "we were obviously under much less pressure to obtain a top result. We began the day in 63rd place and we were able to push as hard as we saw fit, although the conditions didn't facilitate our task.
Running 11th on the road, we came across a great deal of churned up mud and there was very little grip. We also tackled some of the afternoon's loop after nightfall, although that didn't prevent us from going quickly and posting some decent times. We profited from the day to try different settings, too. We intend to carry on at the same sort of pace tomorrow and perhaps try to pick up some championship points for Citroen."
The Citroen Sport clan's Shogun Olivier Quesnel San was understandably pleased with the showing of his warriors today... "Both crews accomplished the missions they were given," he pointed out, knowing that loyalty, or Chujitsu, is another quality that every self-respecting samurai must portray. "Sebastien and Daniel reinforced their position without taking any risks, and they now have a cushion of more than a minute and a half over the crew in fourth place. That should allow them to be Zen going into the final day. As for Dani and Marc, they succeeded in making the most of the free rein they were given to showcase the competitiveness of the C4 over this sort of terrain. I'm glad that today's 156km of stages are over. There are still 96.43km to come, however, and I have to admit that I can't wait for them to be behind us, too." Sincerity, or Seditsu, is another key Bushido value...