A mixture of satisfaction and frustration for Citroen The second day of the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, round six of the 2008 World Rally Championship, saw Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena successfully defend the lead they carved out on Friday. Dani ...
A mixture of satisfaction and frustration for Citroen
The second day of the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, round six of the 2008 World Rally Championship, saw Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena successfully defend the lead they carved out on Friday. Dani Sordo/Marc Marti fell to overnight fifth in the second Citroen Total-run C4 WRC, but they are in a good position to try to finish on Sunday afternoon's podium.
Today's competitive action totalled 134.6km, making it the longest leg of the rally. The menu comprised three stages again to the south of Olbia to be contested twice each. Their profile was similar to that of the previous day's tests, that is to say narrow dirt tracks lined with big rocks, and few fast stretches. Because of their respective positions at the end of Leg 1, the two Citroen crews faced the unenviable task of running first and second on the road. The overnight rain was insufficient to form a hard enough crust on the stage surface, which meant that the two C4 WRC runners once again found themselves sweeping aside the top-coating of dust and gravel that covered the Sardinian tracks.
"As overnight leaders, we knew we would have more 'road-sweeping' to do," confirmed Sebastien Loeb, fatalistically, at the lunchtime halt. "In this morning's conditions, even with good notes, a precise driving style and a perfectly handling car, there was little we could do. There wasn't any grip, and our speed was dictated by the terrain. The power-slides were fun, but not ideal against the stopwatch." Leaning against his C4 WRC, Dani Sordo's observations echoed those of his team-mate: "Even keeping to the lines left by Seb, I couldn't find any grip. The car was sliding all over the place and that inevitably cost me time. I tried to make some small set-up changes for the afternoon's pass because we knew there would still be a top-coating of loose gravel."
The morning's loop saw Sebastien and Daniel defend their lead, but Dani and Marc fell back two places and the two Citroen crews approached the afternoon with differing objectives: Seb's aim was to pull out as big a gap as possible before the final day which promises still more road-sweeping duty, while Dani focused on recovering the ground lost earlier in the day.
"For the second run, I reckoned we would see a repeat of the morning's scenario," regretted Seb. "The Juniors and the Group N cars don't use the same lines as us and tend to drag dust and stones onto our lines. I did what I could again to limit the damage by trying to make the most of the Citroen C4 WRC's strengths. It's so frustrating, but we've managed to keep our leading margin at just below the half- minute mark. Tomorrow promises to be a very interesting day!"
"I gave it everything I could this afternoon, but it wasn't enough" reported Dani this evening. "We failed to recover the ground lost to our rivals this morning, but we will be fifth on the road tomorrow and I have every intention of making the most of having a cleaner line to try to finish on the podium. We haven't thrown in the towel at all. There are five more stages to come and the situation can still be reversed."
"With our two cars in first and second places yesterday evening, we knew we faced a day of 'road- sweeping' today," recognised Olivier Quesnel. "Both our crews effectively spent their time brushing aside a clear line for our rivals on every one of today's six stages. That's part of the sport. Sebastien and Daniel gave it all they could and succeeded in defending their lead, so that was very satisfying, and their cushion of 29.4s will be very useful tomorrow. Dani and Marc had more difficulty with the day's challenge. They must now try to make the most of their road order on Sunday to attempt to move back up the leaderboard. There are still 78km of stages to come and this rally isn't over yet..."