SS14 review - Hans Weijs jr accident

SS14 review - Hans Weijs jr accident

31.01.2009: SS14 review - Hans Weijs jr accident


Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo rounded off the second day of Rally Ireland in first and second places, and well on course to score a 1-2 result for their Citroen Total team tomorrow.

With 14 of the event’s 19 stages completed, Loeb holds a 1min 09.1sec lead over his team-mate Sordo, who in turn heads the man in third, Mikko Hirvonen, by 1min 21.8sec.

Saturday brought more treacherous weather conditions to the rally region, with persistent rain again making Pirelli’s winter tyre the preferred option over the PZero asphalt rubber.

Apart from a small off-road excursion on the penultimate stage, Loeb was in dominant form, winning five of the day’s six stages. “We have a nice lead now, everything was okay,” he said. “The tyre choice was easy - the stages have been just as tricky as Friday’s but yesterday we were on the normal tarmac tyres and it wasn’t working well. Now the feeling is okay, but there was a lot of water and the gravel crews have had a big task. But we’re here, the car is good and everything is going well.”

Sordo also had a largely trouble-free day, with only a stall on SS13 slowing him down. “Once again the conditions have been very difficult with so much water on the road and different grip all over the place,” he said. “We were aquaplaning a lot but overall I’m happy with the performance of the car and everything else.”

Third paced Mikko Hirvonen’s chances of challenging Sordo or Loeb were dealt a blow early today when the power-steering pump failed on his Ford Focus, leaving him to struggle through two stages with no assistance. “I was really looking forward to the fight - maybe getting closer to Sordo and continuing the fight tomorrow. Instead the most important thing now is to finish and get the most points I can,” he said.

Henning Solberg holds fourth place overnight after fending off a strong attack from Chris Atkinson. “On that last stage I pushed as much as I could - I drove like I had my heart in my neck!” he said. “Tomorrow we’ll have to see how we get on, but I’m very, very happy with my driving today.”

After a mixed first day in his new Citroen C4 WRC, Atkinson found a much better pace today - setting a string of top-three times and moving two places up the leaderboard to fifth.

The Australian will start Sunday’s final day 4.7sec behind Henning Solberg’s fourth place. “Considering these are the most difficult conditions I’ve ever seen and I’m in a completely new car it’s been a really good day!” said Atkinson. “It’s taken me a day and a half to understand how to get the best out of the car. I had a long think about it last night and here we are. I can’t wait to try this car on a dry clean stage!”

Sebastien Ogier ended the day sixth - having made up the two places he lost when he went off on SS9. “Without the mistakes this morning it would have been more interesting, but the day has been okay,” he said.

Matthew Wilson ended the day seventh, with Khalid Al Qassimi moving into eighth, and the final points-winning spot, on the final stage.

Ford privateer Gareth Machale spent most of the day battling in eighth place but dropped to twelfth on SS14 as a result of a turbo problem on the final two stages and a collision with a barrier on SS14. He retired from the day altogether on the road section back to Sligo.

SS14 was stopped following an accident involving the Citroen C2 of J-WRC competitors Hans Weijs Jr. and his co-driver Bjorn de Gandt. A statement from the organisers reported that Weijs Jr. had been taken to hospital for a precautionary check-up. His co-driver was unhurt.

- full results, videos, photos and more on www.wrc.com
photos Willy WEYENS  - also on automobilsport.com

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31.01.2009 / MaP

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