Sebastien Loeb retain lead in Sardegna

Sebastien Loeb retain lead in Sardegna

07.05.2011: Citroen star Sebastien Loeb will start Saturday afternoon's loop of three stages 35.4s clear of the chasing pack following day two's opening trio of tests. Loeb started the second day of Rally d’Italia Sardegna 33.2s clear

Citroen star Sebastien Loeb will start Saturday afternoon's loop of three stages 35.4s clear of the chasing pack following day two's opening trio of tests.

 

Loeb started the second day of Rally d’Italia Sardegna 33.2s clear of Petter Solberg and was expected to lose a considerable amount of time due to the fact he has been saddled with cleaning the road of the loose surface gravel in his Citroen DS3 WRC.

Although he dropped time to Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier - running third and fourth on the road respectively - Solberg was unable to make a serious dent into Loeb’s lead, especially when he picked up a slow front-right puncture six kilometres into the 27.97-kilometre Monte Lerno test, the middle run of the morning loop.


“I hit a small rock and it started to go down and was very bad for the last five kilometres,” said Solberg, who is currently in third place, 37.1s adrift of Loeb. “It cost me about 12 seconds but I was also struggling in the narrow sections. I need to make my car easier to drive.”


For Loeb, the morning stages have gone to plan as he chases his second victory of 2011: “It’s been a hard job to clean the road and for sure we lost some time,” said the seven-time champion. “But it’s going quite well although I know everything will depend on the road position of the second pass. I hope the road cleaning will be less and I can keep this position.”


Hirvonen, in a factory Ford Fiesta RS WRC, dropped behind Ogier on Saturday’s opener but moved back ahead when Ogier was too cautious through the short asphalt sections on stage 11. He occupies second place with Ogier back in fourth.


“The last two stages I was happy but I’ve not taken enough time this morning out of Loeb,” said Hirvonen. “It’s looking to be an interesting fight right until the end and we're going to keep trying hard. But if I push much more then the risk of hitting something is high.”


Hirvonen’s Ford team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala has been fastest on all three stages run so far as he battles to make up the time lost when he retired on Friday’s second stage. The Finn put his pace down to a “lack of pressure” now that he has effectively dropped out of contention for claiming his second win in Sardinia.


Kris Meeke was one of the major retirements of the morning loop when his MINI John Cooper Works WRC lost water heading to stage 10. Makeshift repairs by Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle enabled the pair to start the stage but they only managed to cover two kilometres before the problem reoccurred. They are expected to restart under SupeRally rules on Sunday.


Dani Sordo, Meeke’s MINI team-mate, is sixth overall, one place behind M-Sport Stobart driver Mads Ostberg, who reported a bout of oversteer on stage nine, which turned into understeer when he made some changes to his car’s damper clicks after the first stage.


Ott Tanak continues to lead the Super 2000 World Rally Championship in his MM Motorsport Fiesta with an advantage of almost one minute. Red Bull Skoda driver Juho Hanninen has moved into second place after Martin Prokop was slowed in dust clouds created by Daniel Oliveira’s troubled MINI.


Overnight FIA WRC Academy leader Christian Riedemann retired on Saturday’s first test when his Fiesta R2s driveshaft broke leaving the stage start. Round one winner Egon Kaur now tops the young driver category with three stages of the event left to run.
 

full results, videos, interviews and more on www.wrc.com


photo by Willy Weyens

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/rallye-italia-sardegna-sebastien-lob-citroen-ds3-solberg-hirvonen-ogier---90124.html

07.05.2011 / MaP

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