19 January 2012
Loeb pulls further ahead at close of day 2 of Monte
Sebastien Loeb will take a 1 minute 37.2 second lead over Dani Sordo into day two of the 2012 Rallye Monte Carlo; Petter Solberg is third, 3.7 seconds further back...
Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb remains in control of Rallye Monte Carlo at the end of the second day of the event.
Loeb started the day just over a minute up on his closest rival and after winning all three tests this morning he arrived at the mid-day halt having increased his cushion by 19 seconds. On the repeat loop this afternoon he continued to push and despite being just edged out in SS8 - when Dani Sordo was 0.2 seconds quicker - he won SS9 and SS10, to head into the overnight service with his advantage up to 1 minute 37.2 seconds.
“Today was a lot easier than yesterday, particularly as the ice had more or less melted by the time we went through,” Loeb said. “I pushed because I like these conditions and I reckon that you have to pick up time when you can. Having said that, I think I didn't make the best decision tyre wise by keeping all four supersoft tyres for the Lamastre – Alboussière stage.
“Overall the day was fairly easy to manage, but I still had to keep the car on the road. We managed to increase our lead considerably and that means we'll be a bit more relaxed when we start tomorrow's stages. It seems there's a chance of snow!”
Meanwhile, the fight for the runners-up spot continues to ebb and flow between MINI WRC Team driver, Sordo and Ford WRT man, Petter Solberg. Solberg managed to get in front this morning, but this afternoon the Spaniard fought back and the second best time in SS10, 6.1 seconds up on 'Hollywood', put him back in P2.
“Today was good, as I didn't have any problems and it was more like rallying in normal conditions,” Sordo commented. “It was a little bit slippery in the morning with some frost on some parts of the stages, but then some places were completely dry. It is good fighting with Petter as on one stage he is faster than me and then on another I am faster. In the last stage we took a little bit of time off him and got back to second, so we shall try to continue that way tomorrow!”
“The battle for second place is still very much on”, Solberg added. “Third on the road is not a bad place to be starting tomorrow and I'm learning all the time in the car. If there's snow tomorrow that'll make things extremely interesting, and it will all come down to tyres and how we manage them.”
Mikko Hirvonen is next up and fourth on his first outing with the Citroen Total WRT. The Finn is continuing to adapt to the DS3 WRC and while he set top-five times in every single test - including a second best time this morning in SS6 - he is still not really comfortable with his new car. Indeed he reckons he is driving too aggressively still and is now almost 2 minutes off the fight for 'silver'.
“I am in a good position to score some important points for Citroën and I am ready to grab a place on the podium if I get a chance. I am not totally satisfied, however, because I think I'm still lacking pace when the road surface is changeable,” Hirvonen explained. “I also have to adapt my driving style. The DS3 WRC requires a very gentle driving style and I am still too aggressive.”
Evgeny Novikov completes the top five, having got back in front of Sebastian Ogier on the repeat loop this afternoon. The Russian has had the odd moment today, but finished with his two best times of the event thus far having gone fourth quickest in SS9 and SS10. He trails Hirvonen by just 11.1 seconds.
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