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The second leg of Rally Sardinia turned out to be Citroën Total World Rally Team’s most troubled day of the season to date, with Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena losing time after suffering a puncture as they attempted to home in on the leaders.

The five-time World Champions are still in the running for a top-three finish, but mechanical problems prevented Dani Sordo and Marc Marti from building on the excellent comeback performance they produced this morning.

Like that of Day 1, the menu of the Rally d’Italia-Sardegna’s second leg featured a loop of three stages to be contested twice each, making a total competitive distance of 130km. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena kicked off the morning with a deficit of 43 seconds to make up on the leaders and had been hoping to profit from the fact that they were running third on the road to narrow the gap prior to Sunday’s final assault.

Unfortunately, the Citroën crew began by dropping a further 12 seconds on SS7: "Sa Linea is very different to other stages. Ruts had started to form after only two cars had been through and I had trouble taking the longer corners as I wanted because my car lacked stability."

Loeb responded on Fiorentini and Monte Lerno by clawing back 25 seconds compared with Jari-Matti Latvala. However, the reigning champions had the misfortune of checking in late for the start of SS9, incurring a 10-second time penalty which basically effaced their morning’s otherwise positive work.

"We failed to make the most of our start order, and we only gained six seconds over Jari-Matti over the loop’s three stages. That’s not enough to be able challenge him for victory," observed Loeb at the Olbia service park. "We will take a look at the set-up now and try to put in a good run this afternoon to turn the situation back in our favour."

Loeb and Elena’s second visit to Sa Linea saw them drop just five seconds to Latvala, but the following stage - Fiorentini 2 (SS11) – dealt their hopes a major blow: "We picked up a puncture after brushing a tree and we had to stop to change wheels. We beat our own record doing the job, but a minute isn’t something you can make up easily." The Franco-Monegasque pair rounded off the day with a further fastest time to complete Leg 2 in fourth position, 1m 12.6s down on the leader: "Victory is out of the question now, but we are only two seconds off third place, so that will be our target on Sunday…"

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti started the day in eighth place and profited from the first loop to produce an assertive comeback which saw them retrieve fifth spot by the lunchtime break. Their fight-back was then unfortunately stemmed by a turbo problem which forced them to cover SS11 and SS12 at reduced speed. "It’s such a shame because I was feeling really comfortable with my C4 WRC here in Sardinia. We posted some good times before our problem," noted Sordo. "We’re now back down to eighth, so we will try to make sure we come away with a few points in both championships."

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