Seb on course for sixth WRC title
- 25th October 2009, 7:38am
Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb completed today's second day of the Rally of Great Britain with a commanding lead of 30.2 seconds, and perfectly on course to wrap up a sixth consecutive World Rally Championship title on Sunday.
Loeb began Saturday's competition with a 5.3sec lead over Ford's Mikko Hirvonen, the only driver able to challenge him for the 2009 crown, but although the Finn was faster on the first stage in both the morning and the afternoon loops, Loeb stretched further ahead on each of the other four speed tests.
After rounding off the day with a fastest time on the repeated Halfway test (SS12), Loeb acknowledged that despite some typically wet and wild Welsh weather, it had been the perfect day.
"I'm really happy, it was a very, very, good day - especially on the final two stages in the morning," he said. "Early in the day I was able to build a good gap to Mikko, although this afternoon he was closer because the roads were muddier. But I've had a very good drive, made no mistakes and now here we are, with a good lead for tomorrow. Everything's perfect for the moment."
After completing Saturday's final test, Ford Focus RS WRC driver Hirvonen was still pondering why Loeb had been so much quicker through the second two stages of the morning loop. But despite his disappointment, the Finn said he was determined to keep fighting until the bitter end. "Our position now is not what I wanted," he acknowledged. "It's not been a good day and I still don’t understand how we lost so much time earlier. The amount we lost here (2.5sec on SS12) I could understand. Tomorrow is the last day of the year and I've no option but to go flat-out."
Loeb's Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo holds third overall, 49.9sec behind Hirvonen, after a trouble-free and consistent run in the team's second C4 WRC. The Spaniard began the day fourth but moved up a place on SS7 after wiper problems affected the man ahead, Petter Solberg. "It's been a hard day because Petter has been pushing me hard," said Dani. "On the last stage (SS12) he was two seconds quicker than me in the middle and I don't know where I lost that time. But okay, my car has been perfect and I'm happy with my driving. Yes we've had a few moments, but not too many..."
Solberg ended the day fourth, 24sec behind Sordo. The Norwegian lost time on the opening loop of stages when the wipers broke on his Citroen C4 WRC. Despite losing more time later on, when he slipped off the road, the former champion remained philosophical about his day. "What can you do? That’s just how it is sometimes," he shrugged. "It's actually gone very well this afternoon. We've been close to winning stages and on Halfway (SS12) we were matching Loeb's time before I made a mistake in a corner. But it's been a good day. I'm happy to have increased my speed all the time."
A solid day at the wheel of his C4 WRC netted Sebastien Ogier overnight fifth place, but more than 2min 30 seconds behind Solberg. "We've had no problems, and made no mistakes so it’s been a good day. Now we are learning the stages and that's good preparation for the future," he said.
One minute further back in sixth lies Petter's elder brother Henning Solberg of the Stobart Ford team. "It’s been a much better day than Friday. I'm quite happy. I just did my best and that's all I can do," he said.
Briton Matthew Wilson holds seventh place in a second Stobart team car, with Jari-Matti Latvala eighth in their Focus RS WRC after yesterday's difficulties.
For more information on Rally GB visit www.wrc.com
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