Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen Xsara WRC profited from the second leg of the 2005 Tour of Corsica to add a further four fastest stage times to their record, taking their total for the weekend to eight from eight. The two-time World...
Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen Xsara WRC profited from the second leg of the 2005 Tour of Corsica to add a further four fastest stage times to their record, taking their total for the weekend to eight from eight. The two-time World Champions* profited from an entirely trouble- free run today to pull even further clear at the top of the provisional leaderboard.
"Eight fastest times from eight. everything's fine," beamed Sebastien this evening, clearly delighted with his day. "Everybody is now asking whether I can make it a grand slam. That's not my objective, but if I can win more stages driving at this pace, which is sufficiently quick to ensure the Xsara is easy to drive and for me to remain fully concentrated, then that will be a bonus. However, my main aim is to win to try to score maximum points for Citroen."
Francois Duval and Sven Smeets had a somewhat more troubled run than their team-mates this morning. On the longest stage of the weekend (Vico/Col de Sarzoggiu), which kicked off today's programme, the young Belgian was slowed by a problem with his brakes. "They began by overheating, then I lost the front right brakes and, by the end of the stage, the pedal was hitting the floor." On the road section to Ucciani, the start of SS6, the Belgian crew spotted a leak from the calliper which they succeeded in isolating. Even so, with stopping power at three corners of the car only, they took things cautiously in Ucciani/Bastelica. "The front left brakes obviously started to heat up too and I finished the stage with the little braking power I still had at the rear, plus the help of my handbrake," relates Francois. "We had a couple of scares, but the main thing was that we succeeded in getting the car back to service." The two stages saw the Belgians fall to 5th overall.
The problem was eventually cured during the 30-minute service halt by a comprehensive overhaul of the brake system. "We have seen since the start of the season that Francois is very hard on his brakes," said the team's engineer, Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, after the Xsara had left for the second loop of stages. "We have found some satisfactory solutions for his car but, even so, they overheated this morning. That affected the seals and ultimately caused a leak. We will now look carefully at all the components to make sure this was a one-off problem."
On the second loop, a repeat of the morning's group of stages, Francois didn't have the slightest problem, giving weight to the theory that the morning's troubles were an isolated incident. The Belgian consequently focused on fighting his way back up the order, quickly passing Stephane Sarrazin to move back into 4th place and he is this evening 24.6s behind Petter Solberg. "I would like to finish on the podium. But I think catching Petter will be difficult. Helping Citroen's bid to win the Manufacturers' title continues to be the priority. I will therefore stay at the pace I adopted for today's second loop, and we will see."
* Subject to the publication of the official results by the FIA.