31 May 2008
Greece - day 2: Loeb survives, field decimated.
Citroen team leader Sebastien Loeb came through a dramatic second day of the Acropolis Rally of Greece still on top - despite picking up a puncture this morning and dropping behind his team-mate Daniel Sordo.
Loeb started the second day 15.7 seconds up on Sordo, but saw his advantage cut nearly in half on the opening 32.16 kilometre Aghii Theodori test, the longest and roughest of the rally.
The Frenchman, who was running first on the road, was only sixth quickest in SS8 and was clearly suffering as he swept away the loose gravel to leave a faster and cleaner line for those behind.
Seb lost even more time in SS9 however, when he had a left rear puncture around halfway through, something that cost him 30 seconds and dropped him behind Sordo in the sister C4 WRC. Despite setting the second best time in SS10, Loeb finished the morning loop on the back-foot, 16.4 seconds off P1.
On the repeat run this afternoon the pendulum swung the other way and with Sordo picking up a puncture in each test, Loeb was bumped back up into the lead, regaining top spot in SS12 and then concluding the leg almost 30 seconds up on his closest rival.
"It was a hot and rough day and it hasn't been easy. Luckily, the car is OK, but in the last stages we had to drive slowly," said Loeb.
"We didn't push. It was hard for the tyres and very rough. I was not happy with the car in SS11. It was bouncing so much I thought the suspension was broken. It is going to be a difficult day tomorrow [Sunday] since I will be cleaning the road again."
Subaru's Petter Solberg meanwhile is on course for the runners-up spot in the new Impreza WRC2008, which is making its debut in the World Rally Championship this weekend. Petter took it carefully during the day but still set some very, very competitive times, including a second fastest effort in SS11, plus two third fastest times and two fourths.
"I am very happy," said 'Hollywood'. "We drove very carefully. The day has been good for us. We will have the same tactic tomorrow, because we don't want to take any risks. We just need to finish. We faced no major problems."
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