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Sordo Keeps On The Pressure As Loeb Drops Back

Sordo Keeps On The Pressure As Loeb Drops Back

With five leadership changes, the first day of Rally New Zealand has been a very exciting one. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, who led after the first loop, are lying fourth this evening just a few seconds behind the leaders.

Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who lost over a minute following a slight off, are in seventh place overall.

The first stage of Rally New Zealand in the north of Auckland was the longest in terms of timed kilometers. The two loops of four stages were broken up by a service halt of fifteen minutes in the town of Whangarei. The day ended with the super special laid out in the Auckland Domain park.

Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were the first out on the road this morning and had their worst fears confirmed after a few kilometres. The six-time world champions had to sweep off the layer of dust for their rivals and they lost precious seconds.

In SS4 (Cassidy 1), the crew in the no. 1 C4 WRC had a slight off that had serious consequences.

“I got caught out under braking before a very tight right-hander. The corner was followed by a bridge and we hit it on my side at door level,” explained Seb in the service park at midday. “The car didn’t suffer any damage but we lost over a minute trying to close the door. The race looks much more difficult now. I think we can count out victory, but we’re going to try and get as far up the overall classification as possible.”

At this stage of the rally, the other Citroën Total World Rally Team crew was in first place. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti made a cautious start in the first two stages and then went pedal to the metal setting the quickest times in the next two long specials, Bull and Cassidy.

“I didn’t manage to find the right rhythm in the two shorter stages,” smiled Sordo. “Then we made a few small adjustments to the car’s setup and it all went well in the next two. I knew that I could pull something out of the hat today. For the moment, everything’s perfect!”

In the second loop, Sordo just did what was necessary. The Spaniard was locked in battle with Petter Solberg, Sébastien Ogier and Mikko Hirvonen all afternoon and he ended the day in fourth place before the super special. He is only 6.7s behind the leader and he’s feeling very optimistic for the rest of the rally.

“Tomorrow, our starting order is as good as today. There are still two long loops to go and it’s all a question of knowing when to push at the right moment.”

After making sure that his C4 WRC hadn’t been damaged in the morning incident, Loeb pushed hard and set the quickest time in Bull 2 (SS7). The leader of the 2010 world championship is in seventh place and remains true to his character.

“Now that it looks like victory is out of the question, my aim is to score the highest number of points possible. We’re not too far off sixth place, but after that it’ll be difficult to move further up the time sheets under normal circumstances.”


Fastest times in the stages
Jour 1 – SS1: Petter Solberg (Citroën C4) – SS2: Sébastien Ogier (Citroën C4) – SS3 and 4: Dani Sordo (Citroën C4) – SS5 and 6: Ogier – SS7: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën C4) – SS8: P. Solberg – SS9 : Loeb.

Best performers : Ogier 4 fastest times (1 tied) – Sordo and P. Solberg, 2 – Loeb, 2 (1 tied).

Leaders: SS1 and 2: P. Solberg – SS3 and 4: Sordo – SS5 and 6: Ogier – SS7: Latvala – SS8 and 9: P.

Classification at the end of Day 1

1. P. Solberg / Mills Citroën C4 1:34’43’’6

2. Latvala / Anttila Ford Focus +1’’4

3. Ogier / Ingrassia Citroën C4 +3’’9

4. Sordo / Marti Citroën C4 +8’’7

5. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus +20’’2

6. Wilson / Martin Ford Focus +1’09’’7

7. Loeb / Elena Citroën C4 +1’19’’8

8. H. Solberg / Minor Ford Focus +1’45’’3

9. Ketomaa / Stenberg Ford Fiesta +4’18’’0

10. Pons / Haro Ford Fiesta +4’40’’5…


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