Day 1: Loeb/Elena and Citroen C4 lying in waiting
At the end of the first day of the 2008 Rally Mexico, Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena are currently second overall with their Citroen C4 WRC, 9.6 seconds behind the provisional leader. Their team-mates Dani Sordo/Marc Marti
were unfortunately sidelined this morning after a wishbone broke when they hit a rock on SS1 (Alfaro), but they will line up for Saturday's re-start under the SupeRally ruling.
The first gravel outing of the year got off to a colourful ceremonial start last night in the magical town of Guanajuato, a Unesco world heritage site. The occasion gave the Citroen crews a chance to see just how popular they have become in Mexico. The itinerary of the first day of competitive action (135.74km) took competitors into the bare hills that surround host town Leon and Guanajuato, with a loop of three stages to be contested twice each before two attempts at the evening's super-special in Leon.
The day got off to a complex start for Citroen Sport as news broke that the C4 WRC of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti was parked up just kilometres after the start of SS1. "I don't know what happened," reported Dani back at service in the Poliforum exhibition centre. "I was keeping to the line made by previous competitors through a left-hand corner, but there must have been a rock because the wishbone broke. It's bitterly disappointing. Up to that point, we had found a good pace and our split times were looking good." The Spaniards will rejoin the competition tomorrow morning under the SupeRally ruling.
"After our misadventure with the engine of Sebastien et Daniel yesterday, today's blow took a little time to sink in," said Olivier Quesnel. "Even so, everyone at Citroen Sport soon snapped back into action to get Dani and Marc back running. Meanwhile, Sebastien and Daniel claimed the fastest time on SS2 and SS3 to move closer to top spot and that was an excellent boost for everyone's morale; there was still plenty of fight left in us!"
"I had a bit of trouble settling in during the morning's loop," commented Sebastien Loeb
. "The stages hadn't been swept sufficiently clean by the drivers ahead of us on the road and the grip available with our hard compound Pirelli Scorpion tyres wasn't ideal. We tried to counter that by making a small change to our set-up before the start of SS2, which paid off. We managed to close to within 4.4s of the lead and we kept to the same rhythm this afternoon to maintain the gap at less than 10 seconds. We will work a little more on the set-up during this evening's service halt with the intention of pushing hard again tomorrow."
"It's been a bit of a mixed day," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "The first day turned out to be very difficult, as we can see by the high number of retirements. They weren't entirely happy with the set-up of their Citroen C4, but Sebastien and Daniel did a superb job in limiting the damage. They are in a strong position to retaliate tomorrow and Sunday, while Dani and Marc will also line up for the start in the morning in a bid to pick up some extra Manufacturers' points."