Citroen's high-flying C4 WRCs The fiercely fought opening leg of the Jordan Rally, the latest addition to the World Rally Championship calendar, saw Dani Sordo/Marc Marti and their Citroen C4 WRC complete the day on top of the provisional ...
Citroen's high-flying C4 WRCs
The fiercely fought opening leg of the Jordan Rally, the latest addition to the World Rally Championship calendar, saw Dani Sordo/Marc Marti and their Citroen C4 WRC complete the day on top of the provisional leaderboard, while Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena follow in second place, 1.1s seconds behind their team-mates. In addition to the performance of the two factory C4s, the two cars run by PH Sport with support from Citroen Sport Technologies and the sixth place for Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk.
Temperatures in the Jordan Valley and along the shores of the Dead Sea reached as high as 40C during recce, but today's action took place in slightly cooler weather, while the leg's four stages - contested twice each totalled 115.18km of competitive action, most of which took place beneath sea level.
"With three C4 WRCs inside the top ten, including two in first and second places, we could hardly have wished for a better start to the weekend," noticed Olivier Quesnel this evening. "Both crews and everyone at Citroen Sport did a perfect job today. Dani and Marc succeeded in taking full advantage of their road order this morning and they then matched the times of the others this afternoon. They deserve to be leading also because it is the first time they occupy the first position of the leaderboard on a gravel event. Sebastien and Daniel had to cope with the opposite scenario: after a difficult start because of all the loose gravel they were forced to sweep aside, they recovered superbly second time through to put us in first and second places tonight. Even so, we can't afford to get carried away. Anything can still happen, the gaps are small and the conditions promise to be complex again tomorrow."
The first leg took place at altitudes of between -410 (SS1) and +700 metres the latter being the highest part of the route and Citroen's two crews took turns in playing the leading role.
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were the first to show their speed: "We had been hoping that our position on the road would be favourable and it was," explained Dani. "On this sort of terrain, you just can't afford to put a wheel off the line swept clean by the other cars. I consequently tried to keep it as clean as possible so as not to find myself in the looser gravel where it was impossible to control the car. That plan worked well for the first three stages but I didn't feel perfectly at ease on the morning's final test. There were lots of crests and blind corners and I dropped a little time. As expected, the fight was extremely close this afternoon when the conditions were the same for everyone. I am pleased with my start to the rally but we now have to try and defend our lead tomorrow, and that probably won't be easy."
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena can tell Dani a thing or two about running first on the road because that was the main challenge they faced today, although the roads were much cleaner for the second pass and the defending World Champions were able to push much harder. "During recce, we quickly saw that these stages were like nothing we had ever come across before," said Seb. "It wasn't easy to take good notes because everything looks alike and the roads are fast and tricky. I was also aware that I would have the handicap of sweeping aside the loose gravel for the others this morning. I had trouble settling into a good rhythm which affected my driving and I had a couple of scares. We made a few small changes to the set-up of my car for the second loop and that felt much better. On top of that, we didn't have to clear the top-coating of gravel second time round, so it was easer to use the full potential of our C4. The gaps at the moment don't really signify much because I am sure it will be another tough day tomorrow."