At the end of the second leg of Wales Rally GB, which finished, like both previous evenings, with the Cardiff Super Special, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Colin McRae/Derek Ringer are solidly occupying the second and fourth places overall, just as they were yesterday evening. The Citroen game plan has therefore been followed to the letter.

Although the skies were grey, and temperatures low, there was not the slightest sign of rain throughout the day. For the double Northern loop - Crychan and Halfway, which started the day, the tyre choice was determined by the low temperatures, and the pollution brought onto the road by the lower-classified drivers who set off first.

"I think it would have been better to choose slightly softer tyres, and a pattern that coped better with the earth and gravel," explained Loeb back at the Felindre service.

As for McRae, he had noticed a significant improvement as far as the brakes were concerned, with a more consistent brake pedal. Being considered a veteran of the event, having taken part fifteen times, the Scottish driver could not remember ever having competed in his national event in such dry conditions.

"Apart from some rare damp sections, there is really a lot of grip," said McRae, "The car is well-balanced, it is working well, and I am enjoying the little fight I am having with Tommi Makinen."

Having started this morning 11 seconds behind the Finnish driver, McRae has narrowed the gap to six seconds, and can hope to finish on the podium.

The fight between Petter Solberg and Loeb has lost some of its intensity. Even though 'Seb' has adopted a pace in the aim of winning the Manufacturers' title, he recognises: "Petter is driving very quickly. Honestly, even if I went flat out, I think I would find it difficult to overhaul him. With the gap that separates us now, I can only play a waiting game. There is still a long way to go, and recent rallies have shown us how quickly an apparently stable situation can change."

Guy Frequelin has had an easier today. The two perfectly serviced Xsaras have had no problems whatsoever. Just like his drivers, the Citroen Sport boss is looking forward to the relief that will come with the end of the final event of the season, and the promises which it holds. However, he remains cautious, examining the schedule of the short final day.

"There are still three special stages to complete, including two passes through the long 'Rhondda' stage. In total there are just over seventy-three timed kilometres to be run, which is enough for the situation to change," warned Frequelin, "Both our drivers must continue to adopt the fast, safe pace they used today. And the whole team must keep fully concentrated. We will know the final outcome tomorrow, at approximately 3pm - and not before."

 

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