Morning stages in Poland

Morning stages in Poland

27.06.2009: Saturday's opening stage was the first opportunity for Dani Sordo, in third place, to challenge the two Ford drivers ahead of him. In the event, Sordo either decided not to risk an attack, or decided not to do it just yet

SS8: So far so good for Ford pair

Saturday's opening stage was the first opportunity for Dani Sordo, in third place, to challenge the two Ford drivers ahead of him. In the event, Sordo either decided not to risk an attack, or decided not to do it just yet.

Mikko Hirvonen was first to complete the damp and sandy 11.88km Danowo and acknowledged that his approach had been a cautious one. "It was okay, I was a little too careful in places but it's a good start anyway," he said. "I'm watching the speed of both guys behind me. Dani Sordo is a bit further back but you never know..."

Hirvonen's team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was next to complete, setting a time 2.6sec slower and saying his job was largely a defensive one from now on. "Basically there is no point to keep in competition with Mikko - we have to concentrate on what Dani Sordo is. You never know when he might attack."

Citroen C4 WRC driver Sordo completed next, in a time 2.2sec slower than Latvala's. He held third place overall but the gap to Latvala stretched to 30.3sec. "It's okay," said Sordo. "It's a long day today."

Behind the leading trio a battle for fourth was shaping up nicely between Petter Solberg (Citroen Xsara), Henning Solberg (Ford Focus), and Sebastien Ogier (Citroen C4).

Citroen Junior Team driver Sebastien Ogier, currently sixth, was the quickest of the three through Danowo, narrowing the gap to Henning Solberg to 8.1sec. "I really enjoyed this stage," said Ogier. "Catching Henning is the goal for today, and after that maybe Petter - we will see."

After a frustrating day on Friday, when he struggled to find a comfortable set-up for the Polish roads, Henning Solberg said was far happier with his car today. "It's working well - I’ll try my best," he said.

The stage was won by World Champion Sebastien Loeb who restarted this morning, with 20 minutes of penalty time, after crashing out yesterday. At the stage end Loeb said he had no clear target for the day. "I'll just try to drive in a good rhythm and we'll see what we can do," he said. "It's too early to know whether we'll get any drivers' points. If everyone ahead does okay, we'll have no chance. We'll have to see."

Norwegian Andreas Mikkelsen did not restart today. He retired from fifth place on Friday with an engine related problem.

SS9: Citroens attack

If Saturday's opening stage went the way of the Ford drivers then SS9 was Citroen's turn.

Dani Sordo turned up the wick of his C4 WRC and blazed through the 32.75km Gawliki in the fastest time, his first of the rally, to take almost seven seconds out of the gap to Jari-Matti Latvala ahead of him. "It went really very well. It was difficult but I'm happy with the time," said the Spaniard.

Responding to Sordo's split times, Latvala put his foot down too and completed the stage 6.6sec ahead of his rally leading team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. "Sordo started to push so I had to speed up - he was six seconds up on me," he said.

Running first on the road Hirvonen had little time to react to the speed of the cars behind and now leads the rally by a reduced margin of 3.9sec. "When I saw on the splits that the cars behind were going quicker I tried hard," he said. "I'm not too concerned but I need to speed up on the next one, that's for sure."

Like the battle at the head of the field, the fight for fourth also got closer. Sebastien Ogier thumped in another excellent performance, bringing his C4 WRC through the stage in the third fastest time and narrowing the gap on Henning Solberg to 0.1sec. "That was a very good stage for us," beamed Ogier. "We start to be really confident on these roads with our pace notes. Hopefully we can continue in this way," he said.

After the stage Ogier was less than four seconds adrift of a powerless Petter Solberg in fourth place. "There's nothing more I can do," said Petter. "I was absolutely on the limit."


Full Results on - also videos, photos, and more, photos Willy Weyens

Photos on under PHOTOS SLIDESHOWS and Photos ecards WRC Rallyes


27.06.2009 / MaP

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