- Thursday route canceled
- Ogier & Loeb place Citroen 1-2
- Any of the top 4 can take the win
Friday wrap: Ogier gamble on Jordan lead
The Citroen Total World Rally Team crew of Sebastien Ogier and Daniel Ingrassia will take a 31.6 second lead over arch rivals Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena into the final eight stages of the shortened Jordan Rally on Saturday.
“I think it’s been a good day,” Ogier told WRC.com. “We have a lead of over 30 seconds, which isn’t so bad, although now we’ll have to open the road for everyone else tomorrow.”
A handful of seconds separated Ogier, Loeb, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg throughout the opening six stages on Thursday, where Mikko Hirvonen and Loeb were disadvantaged by running at the front of the field and acting as ‘road sweepers’.
The new Citroën DS3 WRC was slightly quicker than the Ford Fiesta over the demanding gravel stages and the two DS3s will start the final day in front of third-placed Latvala in the Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team Fiesta RS WRC. Solberg holds fourth position and Hirvonen rounds off the top five.
Hirvonen was first on the road into the first Suwayma stage, but it was Loeb who set the early pace with a stunning time of 7m01.0s on the high-speed special, despite running second on the road. He edged into a 1.8s advantage over Ogier, with Latvala and Petter Solberg in third and fourth places.
Solberg was quickest through the twistier Kafrain stage where Ogier tied Loeb to the tenth of a second in the overall standings and the French duo held a 4.3s advantage over Latvala in the overall standings.
“I slowed down in the middle of the final stage and I tried to make the other drivers push.
Ogier hit the front through the daunting 41 kilometre Jordan River stage, a fastest time netting him a 7.4s overall advantage over Loeb on a stage where Latvala also closed to within 2.4s of the third-placed defending World Champion. Petter Solberg survived a minor indiscretion to climb to second overall but brother Henning clouted a rock, damaged his Ford’s engine and retired.
Latvala set the fastest time in the fourth stage of the day where Ogier extended his advantage over Loeb to 7.7s. Solberg slipped back to fourth place, but there was bad luck for M-Sport Stobart Ford driver Mads Ostberg, who stopped near the stage start with a broken gearbox.
Latvala was again quickest in the re-run of Kefrain and closed the gap on leader Ogier to 6.4s. The Jordan River stage would be crucial in determining tactics for the second day, with Loeb only 13.5s adrift of the leader after acting as a road sweeper for much of the day.
The question going into the final stage was whether any of the frontrunners was willing to take the overall lead overnight and therefore have to run first on the road throughout the final day’s stages. Hirvonen was already out of the equation, having dropped over a minute through having to run first on the slippery gravel stages, so it was Loeb who made the first move.
“I slowed down in the middle of the final stage and I tried to make the other drivers push,” said Loeb. “I couldn’t do much tactics being second on the road so I tried to do that. But Ogier still has a good lead.”
While Latvala and Solberg responded by slowing down as well, Ogier continued to push, knowing that he would need a substantial cushion to overcome the disadvantage of running first tomorrow.
After a largely trouble-free day at the wheel of his Ice Racing Citroen DS3 WRC, former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen rounded out Friday’s competition in Jordan in sixth place, 14.9s behind Hirvonen. The Finn edged ahead of M-Sport Stobart driver Matthew Wilson on Friday’s final stage, demoting the Briton to seventh, 12s further back.
Khalid Al Qassimi holds eighth place overnight, with fellow Ford Fiesta RS WRC driver Federico Villagra ninth and Nasser Al Attiyah - who leads the Super 2000 category - on course to collect the final drivers’ championship point in tenth.