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At the end of leg one through the vineyards of the Mosel, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti return to Trier at the head of the field. The two Kronos Total Citroen WRT Xsaras are on fighting form for tomorrow’s battle through the Baumholder military ranges. Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio were less happy, coming home tonight in 11th place.

Thanks to constantly-changing weather conditions, Germany’s round of the
World Rally Championship fully lived up to its ‘summer Monte Carlo’ nickname –
partly because of the crucial importance of tyre choice. Today’s action required
crews to make an accurate tyre choice for two identical loops of four stages,
with the final stage of each loop taking place a good three hours after the
teams left the Bostalsee service park. During those eight stages, drivers faced
the entire spectrum of road conditions : dry roads, damp roads, wet roads and
even a sudden downpour (on SS7).

When it comes down to tyre choice, the driver has the final say. But an inspired
choice requires faultless work from everybody involved in the process. Kronos
Racing, together with partners Météo France and BFGoodrich, was spot on
throughout the entire leg. Intermediate tyres were the right choice for the first
loop of stages (hard compound for Seb, soft compound for Dani and Xevi Pons).
On the second loop, very soft slicks turned out to be the winning gamble.

With the right tyres, Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo were able to perfectly
exploit the handling of their Xsaras and share the stage wins – until the twotime
World Champion and four-time winner in Germany claimed two back-toback
fastest times (SS7 and SS8), having led from the start. Seb’s only real
problem was a stall on Fell (SS1). « When you are running on the right tyres,
everything obviously becomes a lot easier, » he said. « We had some good
information and made the right choices : a fantastic job from everyone in the
team. Dani has driven very well, but we’ve managed to pull out a gap.
Nonetheless, we are going to remain concentrated in order not to make the
slightest mistake tomorrow – either at the wheel or in our tyre choice. »

Dani Sordo erred on the side of caution during the wet stages (SS1 and SS7) :
conditions he was discovering for the first time at the wheel of a World Rally
Car. The Spaniard also lost a few seconds with a stall on SS3. Yet nothing could
spoil the reigning Junior World Champion’s day. «The team has given me a
fantastic car – a Xsara that is easy to drive and gave me confidence even in the
tricky conditions that we encountered, » he said. « Seb is in his rightful place :
he is the quickest here. But my second place makes me very happy : the team
asked me to try and score the maximum possible number of points. I am going
to do everything I can in order to try and achieve that goal. »

Xevi Pons, the team’s third man, did not have a good day. «We got off to a
good start on the right tyres, » he explained. «But our ‘off’ on SS4 interrupted
the flow a bit. On the second loop, we decided to take a different tyre choice to
our team mates and opted for intermediates. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to
take advantage of them during the downpour on SS7 and in the dry conditions
of SS8. Tomorrow we have just one aim in mind : getting back up the
leaderboard ! 

After Leg 1:
1. Loeb, Citroen, 1h20m35s
2. Sordo, Citroen, +42s7
3. Gardemeister, Citroen, +2m06s
4. Grönholm, Citroen, +2m11s4
5. Sohlberg, Subaru +2m23s1
6. Stohl, Peugeot, +2m29s4
7. Hirvonen, Ford, +2m48s6
8. Aigner, Skoda, 2m55s5
9. Atkinson, Subaru, 3m10s7
10. Sarrazin, Subaru, 3m43s6

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