The Citroen Xsara WRC's of Sebastien Loeb / Daniel Elena and Carlos Sainz / Marc Marti returned to Lloret de Mar tonight in the first and second positions respectively, while Colin McRae / Derek Ringer lie seventh and Philippe Bugalski / Jean Paul Chiaroni eighth.

The Tour de Corse last week was a nightmare for the teams with always changing weather conditions. Here in Spain, they remained remarkably stable, but tyre choices were still very tricky for the first group of stages. The correct compound needed to be selected, given that the temperatures in the three tests varied between 0 and 3? C.

At the first service, only Bugalski chose soft compound tyres, while his three team-mates decided to go for an intermediate rubber which was more resistant. This gamble worked for them. Loeb took the lead after he posted fastest times on stages 2, 3 and 4 despite hitting a bank with the rear left of the car damaging the light.

Seb' finished leg 1 with a final stage win on SS8. "I was sure of my tyre choice and I knew I would heat the rubber enough to make them work even better," said the Frenchman, "With our result in Corsica, I really have to attack here. We feel a bit of pressure but no more than our competitors."

Local hero Sainz immediately matched his young team-mate's pace and lies in front of Markko Martin tonight, who attacked throughout the leg to catch the Spaniard: "This is the type of fight I really enjoy. We drove at a very high speed with no room for any mistakes."

Lying seventh overall tonight, McRae experienced a problem-free day, except for being slowed down by an incident just before the famous Viladrau bridge. "I couldn't stop, I had to use the handbrake going round the corner but we ran too wide and hit the back of the car on the barrier," said the Scot.

Bugalski meanwhile encountered no problems and set a promising fourth fastest time on the final stage. He finishes in eighth.

With two Xsaras in the lead and four drivers in the points, team boss Guy Frequelin is satisfied. "This is a superb start," he said. "However we know there are still two difficult days ahead of us before the finish. The motivation in the whole team is high tonight."



Loading Comments...