CitroÃ«n's pair in impressive form The famous Welsh red dragon would have been a fitting steed for Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena today, but instead it was at the wheel of their familiar red Xsara WRC that they continued to impress in...
Citroën's pair in impressive form
The famous Welsh red dragon would have been a fitting steed for Citroen's Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena today, but instead it was at the wheel of their familiar red Xsara WRC that they continued to impress in Britain's WRC round.
Throughout the second leg, they were effectively in uncompromising form winning all six forest stages and only failing to claim this evening's super-special 'slalom' laid out in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium by 1 second. Their unrelenting attack has seen them pull out an enviable lead before tomorrow's two visits to Resolfen and Margam...
"I admit we pushed very hard all day today," said Seb. "But we didn't have a single problem and the car was nicely balanced. Switching to slightly harder compound tyres for the afternoon's loop was a judicious move. The surface is exceptionally dry for this event but I have to say that the stages are just as fun to drive in these conditions. Tomorrow it will obviously be a case of trying not to make any mistakes..."
Francois Duval and Sven Smeets are 4th overall this evening thanks to a superb run. Their principal objective was to keep Markko Martin at bay and the Belgian pair accomplished their mission to the letter. That said, their day could have got off to a better start when a malfunction of their 'launch control' system saw them stall on the start line of Crychan (SS7). The incident slightly unsettled the young Citroen driver who also reported a small scare during the stage: "A spin in 4th gear, and the engine stalled again. In all, I think the two incidents must have cost us something like 12s..."
Francois was swift to put his early misfortunes behind him and that was just as well since Markko Martin had profited from them to close to within 2s of his Xsara after Epynt (SS8). However, a series of top stage times -- including a Citroen one-two second time through Epynt (SS11) -- saw the Belgian pull out a gap of more than half a minute over the Estonian. "I am very pleased with my times in the second loop," admitted Francois. "They are a particularly positive boost for my confidence and I can't complain about the weather conditions either: our pre-event testing was done in the dry and the stages are slippery enough as it is like that!"
"As usual, I refuse to allow myself to get carried away," warned a nonetheless grinning Guy Frequelin at this evening's service halt. "There is still more than 100km of competitive action to come tomorrow, with two passes through two notoriously challenging stages. Even so, I have to say I was delighted to see both our crews pushing hard today. OK, the conditions are dry, but the stages are still very difficult because of the high speeds. I am also pleased with the performance of our two Xsaras and our Michelin tyres... We have some top cards in our hand and Seb and Francois both played them brilliantly..."