9 July 2010
Loeb leads Rally Bulgaria, Raikkonen crashes
Record-breaking multiple WRC champion and tarmac expert Sebastien Loeb takes a clean sweep of stage wins on the opening day in Bulgaria to open up a 28.1 second cushion at the top.
Citroen number one driver Sebastien Loeb almost doubled his lead on Rally Bulgaria this afternoon, the seventh round in the 2010 World Rally Championship.
Loeb, who was quickest in both stages this morning, once again set the marker this afternoon, 2.7 seconds up on Dani Sordo in SS3, the 31.77 kilometre-run through Batak Lake, and 6.8 seconds ahead of the Spaniard in SS4, the 27.57 kilometre Belmeken Lake test.
He now heads into the overnight service having increased his lead from 16 seconds to 28.1.
"Everything went off like a dream for us," said Loeb. "The stages were a bit dirty first time through, but not too bad. We did just enough in the very tricky sections and we didn't make any mistakes. The car was perfect.
"For the moment the scenario is ideal, but I'm still a bit cautious. It's a new rally and we're finding out about the stages in the race. Mistakes can always happen, or we could have a puncture, or there could be a sudden change in the weather."
Sordo meanwhile finished the day second, and while he hadn't been too happy with his car after the morning loop, he felt better post-SS4.
"After the modifications we made at midday, I found that the car was much easier to drive and more in keeping with what I'm used to," explained the Spaniard. "I was able to push harder. Sébastien's setting a searing pace today and he's already opened up a small gap. My job will probably be a bit easier tomorrow as I'm second out on the road. We'll try and close the gap to Seb."
Petter Solberg completes the provisional podium at this very early stage, and he is only 9.9 seconds off Sordo, an impressive feat, especially as this is his first outing with new co-driver, Chris Patterson.
"It's been a fantastic day today, and I'm very happy with third," said Solberg. "I am also very impressed with my new co-driver. After 10 kilometres into the first stage, he was already up to the pace.
"We lost some time on SS4 when the rear right tyre went off the rim, and I think we would have been closer to Sordo if that didn't happened. But this is also only my second event in a C4 on tarmac, first one was in Spain 2009, so there are a lot of new aspects this weekend."
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