Sebastien Loeb has helped put Citroen in a strong position to clinch the manufacturers' title after ending day one of Wales Rally GB in second place.

Although Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala leads overnight, second for Loeb and sixth place for Dani Sordo has put Citroen on course for a fourth manufacturers crown, with Latvala's team-mate Mikko Hirvonen well outside the points after going off on the run through Sweet Lamb.

Having already clinched his fifth drivers' title, Loeb was faced with running first on the road into the tricky Welsh stages, which had been badly affected by the cold conditions that have swept through Britain in recent days.

The Frenchman was eighth through SS2 - SS1 having been cancelled - and was then third fastest in SS4 to head into the mid-day service in fifth place.

"The conditions were really difficult," he said. "An off was possible even on the road sections, and running first on the road was a major handicap.

"We had nobody else's lines to guide us, and there was nothing to warn us of the patches of sheet ice where there was absolutely no grip whatsoever. We chose a pace which didn't entail taking any risks and I think that was the best approach given what's at stake here in the manufacturers' championship."

Conditions didn't improve much on the second run through Sweet Lamb and Myherin before the crews headed to the Walter Arena for two runs through the short 2.29km test, but top two times on all four stages allowed Loeb to head into the overnight service just under 13 seconds behind leader Latvala.

"Mud made the second pass even more delicate than the first," he said. "The start of SS6 was even delayed because of a hailstorm! Our hard compound tyres weren't exactly in their element in the mud and couldn't provide enough grip.

"We aren't allowed to 're-cut' the tread patterns either, so we couldn't get extra grip that way. All in all, though, I think we came through the day fairly well..."



Loading Comments...