Germany - Citroen Sport - Leg 2Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena completed the second leg of the 2007 Rallye Deutschland on top of the provisional leaderboard at the wheel of their Citroën C4 WRC. The three-time World Champions move ahead after the day's opening stage before
pulling clear of their rivals to give them a useful advantage going into the final day.
Yesterday's two loops of stages on the banks of the Mosel River were challenging enough, but today's programme always promised to be even tougher.
"Today's leg accounts for 46% of the weekend's competitive distance," observed Guy Fréquelin before the start of this morning's hostilities. "And the stages are so specific that it's practically a fresh rally that begins today."
Indeed, the combination of the Saint Wendel region's narrow roads and the concrete slabs encountered on the Baumholder military ranges was a pretty awesome prospect. Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena got straight down to business, however.
The information fed back to them by their team and the optimistic forecast for the morning provided by the specialists from Météo France Sports, one of Citroën Sport's technical partners, led the crew of the N°1 C4 to opt for the soft compound dry weather BFGoodrich tyres for dry, cold asphalt. Their choice was spot on.
"We saw on the Monte Carlo Rally that the Citroën C4 is very strong on asphalt," said Sebastien Loeb
. "With the right tyres, it is an extremely quick machine.
I felt totally confident and we were able to push hard to recover the lead at the end of the day's first stage. The loop began with fast, narrow roads which called for maximum concentration. We also had to watch out for the lingering damp patches on which it could have been easy to make a mistake. We were on our guards, too, over the Baumholder ranges in order to look after our tyres which were put to a punishing test over the camp's abrasive surface."
Even so, Seb and Daniel succeeded in posting the fastest times on SS8 and SS10 and, at the lunchtime break, they were pleased with their morning's work which had seen them pull a further 10 or so seconds clear of Marcus Grönholm.
They set out for the afternoon's loop intent on keeping up their momentum.
"I pushed hard again, basing my pace on the split-times of our rivals to stabilise the gap," explained Sébastien. "I had a very good feeling with the car but I was extremely concentrated because the conditions were very tricky. Our lead over Marcus Grönholm is now 37.8s. Tomorrow's leg is quite short but it could still spring a few surprises. We will take it cautiously and do our best to take a sixth straight win Rallye Deutschland tomorrow in Trier."
"There is still one more day to come," pointed out Guy Fréquelin as the media pushed him to comment on the possibility of a seventh successive win for Citroën in Germany.
"Seb and Daniel put in an excellent run with their Citroën C4 today and they have succeeded in pulling out a small gap over Marcus Grönholm. Even so, I don't feel totally reassured. How could I? The weather here can change in an instant and there will be two tyre choices to make tomorrow; an error is always possible. The vineyard stages are also very hazardous and a mechanical problem cannot be ruled out. If Seb and Daniel manage to hold on to their lead, it will be fantastic for everyone in the team and a major exploit for Citroën. In terms of the Drivers' championship, François Duval is just 12.6 seconds behind Marcus Grönholm with his OMV Kronos Citroën Xsara. He's got one more day to bridge that gap, which isn't impossible!"