Loeb still the man in Rally Bulgaria
- 11th July 2010, 8:03am
The second leg of Rally Bulgaria was the longest. The route was still laid out on the mountain roads in the environs of Borovets. It consisted of a loop of three stages to be covered twice. In the variable weather conditions reigning in the different stages, the tyre choice proved crucial when the cars left the service park for the first loop. The two Citroen Total World Rally Team C4s opted for the soft Pirelli P-Zeros.
It was the right choice as Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena set the fastest time in the 28-km Sestrimo stage (SS5): "It wasn't obvious as there was a lot of fog. I'm happy to have reached the end of this stage!" In the following one, it was Dani Sordo's turn to shine by setting the best time: "It was pleasant but I didn't think I was the quickest; I didn't feel that I was really going flat out. The car was easy to drive and that helped me to go quickly without having to push too hard." SS7 was neutralised for safety reasons and the cars returned to the service park at midday having done only two stages.
"The tyre choice wasn't all that obvious. Just at the moment when we had to bolt the wheels on the car, we knew that the second and third stages were damp. Thanks to information supplied by Meteo France we learned that it was also going to rain in the first stage, so that convinced us to put on soft rubber," explained Loeb when he arrived back in the park. "We were able to maintain our lead over Dani and open up the gap over Petter Solberg, so it was perfect."
Seb chose a set of soft rubber for the second loop. Sordo opted to mix his rubber with two hard tyres at the front and two soft ones at the rear. He also carried two soft tyres in the car.
Petter Solberg in his C4 WRC started on the hard tyres and set the three quickest times in the afternoon. The Norwegian closed the gap to Sordo to under five seconds: "My C4 was handling well but the added weight of the second spare wheel reduced its overall efficiency," explained the Spaniard. "We made this choice as there was a strong possibility that a storm would soak the last stage. We've managed to hold on to second place, but tomorrow we'll have to push hard to finish the rally in front of Petter."
The choice of soft rubber wasn't the best one for Loeb either : "We knew it wasn't the best one but our lead enabled us to opt for security given the risk of the storm. Overall, we didn't lose too much time. I adjusted my driving style as when soft tyres overheat, they make the car's handling less precise. You just have to find the right rhythm by anticipating a little bit more. We'll have to finish the job tomorrow to bag the win!"
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