Sordo top as tactics come into play

Citroen's Dani Sordo has ended the second day of the Repco Rally Australia at the head of the pack, fractionally in front of Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen after tactics came into play late on.

Jari-Matti Latvala had led following the first leg on Friday, however he struggled running first on the road and slipped back this afternoon, when he was overhauled by Loeb in SS21, the 8.59 kilometre CTEK West test.

Loeb then increased his lead to 11.1 seconds in SS22, before deliberately slowing in the last 'proper' test, which locked in the starting order for the final leg. Sordo also opted to ease off in SS23, something that initially handed Hirvonen the lead. Mikko will now have to play the 'road sweeper' on Sunday and clear the loose gravel for those behind, potentially leaving a cleaner and quicker line.

However, Hirvonen lost P1 right at the end of the leg, when he was 'passed' by Sordo following the two Tweed super specials. He now trails the Spaniard by just 0.1 seconds, and remarkably, so too does Loeb.

"It's so close, it is incredible," said Hirvonen. "The final leg is the longest of the rally, which is good because it means there are a lot of kilometres in which to fight for the win. I tried to push as hard as possible this afternoon, but I tried too hard because I made some small mistakes.

"I didn't want to be first on the road tomorrow but there was nothing I could do about it and it will be tough trying to win from that position if conditions are dry. However, if it is wet, it could be perfect."

Loeb meanwhile said he had no alternative but to ease off in SS23, given how much time he would have potentially lost running first in the order.

"We had to do it," confirmed the Frenchman. "I would have had no chance [to win] clearing the road. It's not something I like, but the regulations force us to use this sort of strategy.

"It's frustrating to spend all day driving flat out only to end up dropping time purposely. At the end of the day, though, I think I'm in a good position now going into the longest leg of the rally."

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastian Loeb (F) Daniel Elena (MC) Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Total WRT
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) Jarmo Lehtinen(FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC09, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Jari-Matti Latvala (FIN) Miikka Anttila (FIN) Ford Focus RS WRC09, BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team
Dani Sordo (E) Marc Marti (E) Citroen C4 WRC, Citroen Total WRT
Craig Breen (IRE), Peugeot, FIA ERC [Credit: ERC PR]
Teemu Suninen (FIN), Toyota Motorsport [Credit: WRC.com]
RX: World Rallycross, UK talent competition [Credit: FIA World Rallycross media]
James Grint - Albatec Racing
Robin Larsson will campaign a privately-run Audi in the 2015 FIA World Rallycross Championship
Rallye International du Valais, European Rally Championship [Credit: European Rally Championship]
Junior ERC: Chris Ingram, Peugeot UK [Credit: Chris Ingram Rally]
Tuthill Porsche, Circuit of Ireland Rally [Credit: Tuthill Porsche Media]
Volkswagen Motorsport, World Rallycross [Credit: FIA World Rallycross]
Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
Jerome Grosset-Janin - Albatec Peugeot
Petter Solberg, James May, Top Gear [Credit: FIA World Rallycross]
Ott Tanak at the finish of Rally Mexico, sporting swimming mask and snorkel. 2015. [Pic credit: M-Sport]
Simone Tempestini (ITA) Matteo Charciossi (ITA), Subaru Impreza

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Dafydd Larcombe - Unregistered

September 05, 2009 1:47 PM

Oh well, cant blame Citroen for their tactics but poor old Mikko has now got a tough job to do tomorrow. Safest tactic is if Jari can drive at 110% to possibly win,even if Loeb is 2nd,Danni 3rd Mikko 4th the difference would be back to zero. Only Jari has that blinding extra speed, but it comes at a big risk of him going off again More risky, If Mikko and Jari both drive flat out, Mikko wins,Jari 2nd,Loeb 3rd,Mikko gains another 4 points on Seb to take 7 point lead I think thats the best tactic for Ford, Loeb will have to drive 110% to try and stop them and who knows how it will unfold and end I think overall everyone has to drive at 110% and see what happens. Exciting huh

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