Frenchman Ogier holds lead after first six stages

Frenchman Ogier holds lead after first six stages

15.04.2011: 2011 JORDAN RALLY ē Loeb settles into second overall; third place for Fordís Latvala ē Qatarís Al-Attiyah in complete control in SWRC and MERC categories

2011 JORDAN RALLY
 
•         Loeb settles into second overall; third place for Ford’s Latvala

•         Qatar’s Al-Attiyah in complete control in SWRC and MERC categories




 
The French crew of Sébastien Ogier and Daniel Ingrassia will take a 31.6 second lead over arch rivals Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena into the final eight stages of the shortened Jordan Rally on Saturday.
 

A handful of seconds separated Ogier, Loeb, Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala and Norwegian 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’.
 

“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 that. But Ogier still has a good lead.”
 

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 S2000. Solberg holds fourth position and Hirvonen rounds off the top five.
 

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah remained on course for a winning double by outclassing the opposition in both the Super 2000 (SWRC) and Middle East championship categories. The 10th-placed Qatari comfortably led the SWRC class at the end of the day and had a massive lead over the UAE’s Rashid Al-Ketbi in the MERC category.
 

“All is going perfectly at the moment,” said Al-Attiyah. “I need to make up for the disappointment in Mexico and also take maximum points in Middle East.”
 


Friday - WRC
 

Hirvonen led the way into the first Suwayma stage, but it was Loeb who set the early pace with a stunning time of 7m 01.0s 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. Al-Attiyah surged into a 16s lead over Eyvind Brynildsen in the SWRC category.
 

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. Al-Attiyah was again in a class of his own in the SWRC section on a stage where Brynildsen retired after hitting a stone and sustaining suspension damage.
 

Ogier hit the front through the daunting 41km 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 Norway’s Mads Ostberg who stopped near the stage start with a broken gearbox.
 



The Finn 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.
 

Ogier set the fastest time in the stage and Loeb stopped for a handful of seconds for tactical reasons before making a couple of mistakes late on. The outcome was that Ogier will take a 31.6s lead into the final day, with Loeb in second and Latvala playing the tactics to perfection to hold third position.
 




MERC
 

Al-Attiyah was also the class of the field in the MERC category and cruised into a half minute lead over Rashid Al-Ketbi through the opening stage. Mazan Tantash and Sheikh Abdullah Al-Qassimi were the best of the rest through Suwayma. Al-Ketbi hit trouble in Kefrain and the Qatari extended his outright lead to 2m 09.4s.
 

Tantash, Al-Qassimi and Lebanon’s Michel Saleh completed the top five. Jordanian Ammar Hijazi, who was lying third in the regional series before the event, withdrew with power steering issues before the start.
 

Al-Attiyah extended his advantage over Al-Ketbi to 2m 51.8s in the gruelling Jordan River special, but Tantash was crippled with mechanical woes and lost eight minutes on the stage. Al-Qassimi failed to start the Jordan River stage and Saleh stopped mid-way through the timed test. Nine of the original 12 starters completed the first loop of three stages.
 

Al-Attiyah beat Al-Ketbi by 35.1s in Suwayma 2 on a stage where Kuwait’s Essam Al-Nejadi retired. The Qatari was again quickest by 1m 32.4s in Kefrain and headed to the final stage of the day with a commanding 7m 08.7s advantage over the Emirati. Mufeed Mubarak, Meshal Al-Nejadi and Tantash completed the top five.
 



Tomorrow
 

Saturday’s timetable offers eight special stages, totalling 115.26km of competition, in a route of 333.04km. The action gets underway with the 14.16km Yakrut special at 08.20hrs and is followed by runs through Bahath (08.50hrs), Mahes (09.35hrs) and the Baptism Site special (10.18hrs).
 

The four stages will be repeated in the afternoon after a service and regroup at the Dead Sea and the special stage action culminates in the Baptism Site Power Stage at 15.00hrs. Additional points will be awarded to the winner of the special, which will be filmed live by championship promoters, North One Sport. The ceremonial finish will take place at the Dead Sea service park from 16.30hrs.
 



Jordan Rally WRC – positions after 6 of 14 stages (unofficial):


1. Sébastien Ogier (F)/Julien Ingrassia (F) Citroën DS3 WRC                                 1h 32m 53.4s
2. Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (F) Citroën DS3 WRC                         1h 33m 25.0s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN)/Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC                        1h 33m 26.5s
4. Petter Solberg (N)/Chris Patterson (GB) Citroën DS3 WRC                                1h 33m 28.7s
5. Mikko Hirvonen (FIN)/Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN) Ford Fiesta RS WRC                        1h 35m 24.3s
6. Kimi Räikkönen (FIN)/Kaj Lindstrom (FIN) Citroën DS3 WRC                             1h 35m 39.2s
7. Matthew Wilson (GB)/Scott Martin (GB) Ford Fiesta RS WRC                           1h 35m 51.2s
8. Khalid Al-Qassimi (UAE)/Michael Orr (GB) Ford Fiesta RS WRC                       1h 37m 43.1s
9. Federico Villagra (RA)/Jorge Pérez-Companc (RA) Ford Fiesta RS WRC            1h 37m 47.6s
10. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000         1h 38m 12.7s
 




Jordan Rally MERC – positions after 5 of 14 stages (unofficial):


1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Giovanni Bernacchini (I) Ford Fiesta S2000                         1h 09m 02.1s
2. Rashid Al-Ketbi (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Skoda Fabia S2000                                      1h 16m 10.8s
3. Mufeed Mubarak (KT)/Saad Al-Melaifi (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X                          1h 20m 44.4s
4. Meshal Al-Nejadi (KT)/Ahmad Al-Khrass (KT) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX                   1h 26m 49.8s
5. Mazan Tantash (HKJ)/Zeid Abu Zeid (HKJ) Subaru Impreza STi                                          1h 27m 17.8s
6. Nancy Al-Majali (HKJ)/Nadia Shnoudeh (HKJ) Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX                  1h 30m 56.8s
7. Rami Hijazi (HKJ)/Ramzi Mansour (HKJ) Subaru Impreza STi                                             1h 34m 36.5s
8. Mirza Hatk (HKJ)/Faisal Hakki (HKJ) Fiat Stilo                                                                          1h 40m 14.0s
 
  



WILLY WEYENS- also photos


More photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS SLIDESHOWS and PHOTOS Ecards  WRC RALLYES

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15.04.2011 / MaP

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