Three C4 WRCs fill the first three places Three Citroen C4 WRCs monopolise the first three places in the overall classification at the end of the first day of Rally Portugal. Behind Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, entered under the Citroen...
Three C4 WRCs fill the first three places
Three Citroen C4 WRCs monopolise the first three places in the overall classification at the end of the first day of Rally Portugal. Behind Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, entered under the Citroen Junior Team banner, the two Citroen Total World Rally Team C4 WRCs are lying in ambush with Dani Sordo and Marc Marti in second spot just in front of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.
Rally Portugal began on Thursday evening with the first run through the super special laid out in the Algarve Stadium, which also hosts the service park. This morning, the crews headed north to cover a loop consisting of three 20-kilometre long stages.
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, the current World Rally Championship leaders, were again first out on the road and swept away the fine layer of dust for their pursuers. In SS2, the six-time world championship duo lost a few seconds to their rivals: "The first stage was marked by our unexpected meeting with a motorbike! I didn't have to go off line to avoid him, but it was a bit of a surprise. I stayed concentrated and I continued to push. In my position, I've got no choice; I have to drive as quickly as possible so as not to allow the others to pull away."
By the others the Frenchman meant Dani Sordo and Sebastien Ogier who were swapping the lead in the rally. The Spaniard set the quickest time in SS2 and he held on to first place until Ogier overtook him. "It was a good start to the rally," said Dani in the service park at midday. "I feel very good in the car and I can drive at my own rhythm. Obviously, my position on the road was an advantage today. I'll have to keep up the same pace this afternoon, throughout the whole rally in fact as that's what I need to do to score a good result."
After thirty minutes' service the crews set off to tackle the three stages on the mountain roads in the Algarve. While Ogier reaped a harvest of fastest times the Citroen Total World Rally Team drivers lay in ambush. As usual, it was in the last stage of the day, crucial for deciding the morrow's starting order, that the victory contenders showed their cards.
Ogier who had led from after the midday break, held on to first place from Sordo who lost some fifteen seconds a few kilometers from the finish: "My tyres were very worn and I went straight on when I had to change direction. We lost a little time but we hung on to our second place. It won't be easy tomorrow as we have to fend off three drivers who'll have better road conditions."
As several drivers lost time in the last stage, Loeb inherited third place 45 seconds behind the leader: "It's been a difficult day mainly because we had to do the sweeping. Ogier's driven very well and he's built up a good lead. We'll try and catch him tomorrow. There's still a long way to go in the rally, and the second stage will give us a good idea of who's going to come out on top."