CitroÃ«n Sport's SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena profited from the second day of the 2007 Rally de Portugal to tighten their grip at the sharp end of the leaderboard after easing into the lead on Friday afternoon. The second C4 WRC crewed by Dani...
Citroën Sport's Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena profited from the second day of the 2007 Rally de Portugal to tighten their grip at the sharp end of the leaderboard after easing into the lead on Friday afternoon. The second C4 WRC crewed by Dani Sordo and Marc Martí is still 5th.
"Who turned the taps on," quizzed Sébastien Loeb on arrival at the service park this morning for the start of second leg of the Portuguese round of the WRC. Météo France, one of Citroën Sport's technical partners this year, effectively predicted a strong likelihood of rain today and, bang on cue, heavy showers moved in over the Algarve region early today. "These conditions mean it's essentially a new event that's starting this morning," announced Guy Fréquelin prior to the day's two identical loops of three challenging stages in the Caldeirao hills to the west and in the Da Capinha hills to the east.
Tyre choices are never easy in the wet, especially when your most pressing chaser is only 3.1s behind, which is exactly the gap Sébastien Loeb had succeeded in pulling out over Marcus Grönholm at the end of Leg 1. "We had very good information about both the weather and the morning's stage conditions and, based on that, we chose soft compound BFGoodrich tyres," explained Sébastien at the midday service halt. "It took me a few kilometres to get into the rhythm though. Maybe I wasn't completely awake. I also had to concentrate to sense exactly how much grip there was. The mud and the lack of grip forced me to slide more than usual but I'm happy with the end result." Seb had good reason to feel pleased with his morning's run since it had allowed him to extend his cushion to 15 seconds...
Dani Sordo was still in 5th place as crews returned to service after the morning's loop, although he was kicking himself for a couple of things: "I stalled twice on SS8 and must have dropped 10 seconds or so. I also still lack the necessary experience to really exploit the Citroën C4 WRC's potential which, I have to say, is huge in these conditions. I still find myself hesitating about the best way to take certain corners. But it wasn't all negative since I've succeeded in extending my lead over my closest chaser."
Sunshine returned and enthusiastic yet perfectly disciplined spectators were out in numbers for the second loop which saw Seb, Daniel and their Citroën C4 WRC put in another blistering run to record all the leg's fastest times . "This was no ordinary day. We actually used the two extreme options from the BFGoodrich range, switching from the softest available compound this morning to the hardest compound this afternoon. In both cases, I was able push as hard as I wanted and I managed to pull progressively clear of 2nd place. My feeling with the C4 WRC in the wet is excellent. There's still one leg day to come though, and I intend to stay concentrated to try and win tomorrow."
"The change in the weather meant that today promised to be even more stressful than yesterday," commented Guy Fréquelin at the end of Leg 2. "But thanks to the meticulous work of everyone in the team , we had a pretty good day despite all the potential pitfalls. This was largely due to Sébastien and Daniel's two tyre choices which paid off well and enabled them to exploit their Citroën C4 WRC to the full. That in turn allowed them to pull progressively clear at the top and put themselves in a strong position for tomorrow. Meanwhile, Dani did just what I asked of him which was to use his knowledge of the C4 WRC on the loose to consolidate his 5th place."