16 May 2008
Sardinia - day 1: Loeb extends lead.
Citroen number one Sebastien Loeb leads the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, the sixth round in the 2008 World Rally Championship, at the end of day one.
Loeb began the event by setting the fourth best time in SS1, the 16.43 kilometre-run through Monte Corvos, 7.8 seconds off the pace.
However he soon moved up into P1 and with two fastest stages time in succession in Crastazza 1 and Terranova 1, the Frenchman returned to the mid-day halt with a 22.5 second lead.
Seb then proceeded to pull further ahead on the repeat loop and while he lost 0.5 seconds in SS4, he was fastest in SS5, the repeat run through the 33.96 kilometre Crastazza stage - the longest test of the event - and was then second in SS6.
The four-time world champion will now take a 35.7 second lead into the second day and is currently looking very strong.
"I am happy with the way our weekend has started. I have an excellent feeling with the car which responds exactly the way I like," he reflected.
"Its handling is very precise and effective in all the different types of the conditions. We currently have a cushion of 53.8 seconds over our closest chaser and that's a good way to go into the second day, but it isn't enough to consider that victory is in the bag."
Dani Sordo meanwhile heads the chasing pack in the second 'works' C4 WRC and the Spaniard put in a very solid performance, posting two second quickest times, three fourths and one sixth.
"I am very happy with the way our day has gone," he continued. "I suffered a bit from understeer on the first two stages but a change in the settings gave us more confidence for the rest of the day. I very much enjoyed driving my C4. As always in Sardinia, the conditions weren't easy, including some tricky sandy sections and numerous rocks on the road. We came through today's pitfalls but there's still a long way to go before Sunday's finish."
Petter Solberg is next up for Subaru and after struggling with shock absorber problems in SS1, 2 and 3, the Norwegian found some more speed on the repeat loop, overhauling both BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen and his team-mate, Chris Atkinson.
'Hollywood' now lies 18.1 seconds off Sordo and 5.1 seconds up on Hirvonen, who is fourth.
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