Hidden danger on the side
Today's third stage put an early end to Sebastien Loeb
's efforts as he aimed for victory in Poland. After his retirement at the Acropolis Rally two weeks ago, the Citroen team driver again saw his luck fall by the wayside.
"We hit a tree
stump partially hidden in the sand," he explained. "I didn't have it in my notes, I didn't see it during recce... We looked on the recce video, we looked on Dani (Sordo)'s notes, we don't see it!"
Loeb was caught out just as any other driver would have been by the hidden tree stump, but the Frenchman and co-driver Daniel Elena were aboard the first car racing through the Paprotki stage and therefore made the discovery at their expense: "We were the first ones on it, it took us out, so we signalled the others to watch out."
"It's just bad luck, I have no explanation," added the Citroen driver. "It wasn't visible and we were taken out."
The right front wheel of his C4 WRC took the full force of the impact: "The shock tore off the suspension, and since it was nearly at the start of a 30-kilometre stage, it was not even worth continuing. We would have lost an enormous amount of time and risked damaging the car a bit more.
After the first five rounds of the season – which he all won - Sebastien Loeb
had built a comfortable lead in the drivers' championship. However a tyre puncture in Sardinia and then retirement in Greece allowed the Ford team's Mikko Hirvonen to close the gap; today's mishap should help the Finn as well.
Loeb remains confident nonetheless: "Thanks to the lead we built early in the season, whatever the outcome of the rally, it will remain tight. So all remains open."
All the five-time champion wants at this point is that the bad breaks end now... even if he tries to look at things philosophically.
"I consider it as bad luck, that's all," Loeb declared.
"I really wanted a good result after what happened before," he added. "But it won't work! No use asking yourself questions about it."