A black day for the Reds!
The first leg of Rally Australia has been a disappointing one for the Citroën Total World Rally Team as both DS3 WRCs were forced to retire due to accidents. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena and then Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia were caught out by the muddy stages in the New South Wales forests. They will rejoin tomorrow with the aim of scoring points in the World Championship for Manufacturers.
As forecast, the rain fell on Coffs Harbour on Thursday evening just as the cars passed in front of the start podium. The event began with two passes in the super stage in the centre of the little costal town. Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb set the fastest times and took the lead in the event.
Friday morning the crews set off for the dense forests of New South Wales for the opening stages on gravel. The day began with Shipmans, a real 30-km challenge! Loeb set the fastest time at an average speed of 114 km/h to take the lead in the rally.
But in the next stage the 7-time world champion crashed: “It happened in the middle of the stage. I lost concentration for a second by glancing at the split time which had just appeared on Daniel’s screen. I didn’t interpret the note very well and I braked too late for the next corner. The car rolled four times and it was too badly damaged for us to restart immediately.”
Stage victory went to Petter Solberg and Sébastien Ogier, who was third quickest, took the lead: “The rain made the roads very slippery and the hard tyres imposed by the regs were completely ill-adapted to the conditions so it was easy to get caught out. I tried to get to grips with the roads without taking major risks. »
Ogier’s rally ended in similar conditions to those of his team-mate. In SS6 the Citroën Total World Rally Team driver also was caught out on a thick layer of mud: “We skidded on a portion where there was absolutely no grip. We hit a bank and our race ended against a tree. As the radiator was holed we had to stop so as not to damage the engine.”
The Citroën Total World Rally Team mechanics got down to work on the two DS3 WRCs as soon as they were brought back to the service park at the Coffs Harbour airport. Thanks to a 3-hour repair session per car the two DS3 WRCs will be able to continue in the event. Now the crews’ aim will be to finish and scorepoints in the World Manufacturers’ Championship.
The figuresSébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena Sébastien Ogier / Julien IngrassiaSS1: Coffs 1 (3,77 km) 2nd +0.7s 2nd +0.7s 1st 1stSS2: Coffs 2 (3,77 km) 1st 2nd +0.6s 2nd +0.1s 1stSS3: Shipmans 1 (29,03 km) 1st 1st 2nd +2.6s 2ndSS4: Brooklana 1 (12,78 km) - 18th +4m52.2s 3rd +5.8s 1stSS5: Ulong 1 (12,45 km) - 22nd +9m50.1s 3rd +2.1s 1stSS6: Shipmans 2 (29,03 km) - 20th+14m30.7s+14m30’’7- 9th +4m40.7sSS7: Brooklana 2 (12,78 km) - 20t +19m30.8s - 14th +9m40.7sSS8: Ulong 2 (12,45 km) - 23rd+24m27.9s - 15th+14m37.8sSS9: Coffs 3 (3,77 km) - 23rd +26’57’’8 - 16th +17’07’’7SS10: Coffs 4 (3,77 km) - 23rd +26’57’’8 - 16th +17’07’’7
Fastest stage timesDay 1 – SS1: Sébastien Ogier (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS2: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS3:Sébastien Loeb – SS4: Petter Solberg (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS5 and 6: Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta WRC)– SS7: Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta WRC) – SS8 and 9: Latvala – SS10: Hirvonen.Best performers: Latvala, 4 fastest times – Loeb and Hirvonen, 2 – Ogier and Solberg, 1 each.Leaders: SS1 and 2: Ogier – SS3: Loeb – SS4 and 5: Ogier – SS6 to 10 : Hirvonen.
General classification day 11 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta RS WRC 1h17’11’’22 JM. Latvala / M. Antilla Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7’’03 P. Solberg / C. Patterson Citroën DS3 WRC +44’’34 H. Solberg / I. Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2’26’’95 M. Wilson / S. Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3’03’’16 K. Al Qassimi / M. Orr Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4’47’’37 H. Paddon / J. Kennard Subaru Impreza WRX +5’19’’78 M. Kosciuszko / M. Szczepaniak Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +6’39’’99 O. Saliuk / P. Cherepin Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX +7’22’’410 B. Guerra / B. Rozada Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +8’28’’3