24 August 2012
Loeb extends Rallye Deutschland lead
Sebastien Loeb concludes the opening day in Germany at the head of the pack, 20.4 seconds up on Petter Solberg; Jari-Matti Latvala holds third, 9 seconds further back...
Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb has increased his advantage on Rallye Deutschland this afternoon.
Loeb dominated this morning, winning all three tests, to build a 13.1 second lead. While he couldn't maintain that run this afternoon, he inched further ahead with the second best time in SS4, before leading the way in Moselland 2 and adding 5.1 seconds to his cushion. He was then second again in SS6, although only 0.3 seconds off Jari-Matti Latvala. He now heads back to service in Trier 20.4 seconds up on his closest rival.
“The road was pretty dry and dusty on the second runs, but everything went well. Overall, it's been a perfect day for us,” Loeb said. “Although I controlled the race from the front today and I already have a significant lead over my closest challengers, I'm certainly not out of the woods yet, especially with two runs on Panzerplatte scheduled tomorrow.”
Petter Solberg meanwhile continues to head the chasing pack for Ford, but while he was second best in SS5, he could manage only the fourth best times in SS4 and SS6.
“My experience of driving the Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt is relatively small, so I'm still getting used to the car on this surface,” Solberg said. “Considering that, I'm very happy with my performance. I could have pushed harder, but it was important to establish a good feeling and not take too many risks. You have to be smart here. I lost a few seconds but this morning but this afternoon was perfect and the car was fantastic. Tomorrow is a long day with some difficult stages so it will be important not to do anything crazy.”
Latvala is third, but despite winning SS4 and SS6, a poor time in SS5 cost the Finn dear and he was 12.7 seconds off the pace.
“When I was fastest in stage four, I had two lucky escapes when I was off the road and almost 'lost' the car,” Latvala explained. “Afterwards Miikka [Anttila – my co-driver] and I agreed it was time to calm down otherwise we wouldn't finish the rally. I tried to find a comfortable feeling, but eased off too much [in SS5], braked too early and didn't realise how much time I was losing. I found a good compromise on the last stage and was fastest again. Tomorrow is the key day of this event and I'm looking forward to the long stages at the Baumholder military land. I enjoy those roads.”
Thierry Neuville continues to run well in his Citroen Junior WRT-run DS3 WRC car and he was even third quickest in Mittelmosel 2. He ends the day fourth.
“Although there are some points that could be perfected, I'm really pleased with how things went today,” said the Belgian. “Seb Loeb was quicker than everyone today, but we were very close to the times of the other competitors all day. But it all starts again tomorrow. Tyre management on the Baumholder stages seems to be one of the keys to success here. I still want that podium spot, so I'll have to keep pushing.”
Behind Prodrive WRC Team driver Dani Sordo has moved up to fifth and ahead of the struggling Mikko Hirvonen. The Spaniard posted two third best times in SS5 and SS6 and reported that he was happier with his MINI John Cooper Works WRC car on the second loop.
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