Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in their Citroën DS3 WRC have taken the lead in the overall general classification at the end of the long, tiring second day of Rally France- Alsace. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew set six fastest times in nine stages and lead their closest rival by 9.5 seconds. The Sunday sprint, which will bring the crews from Strasbourg to Haguenau, promises to be a real nail-biter!
After confirming that Sébastien Loeb would not restart in the Super Rally Citroën Racing quickly sent the no.1 DS3 WRC to the Versailles-Satory factory to check the damaged engine: “The early analysis shows that an assembly error could be the cause of the problem that hitSébastien,” explained Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, the Citroën Racing technical director. “So we’re not too worried about the reliability of the other two DS3 WRCs that are still running.”
Sébastien Ogier started the second leg in third place 1 second behind Petter Solberg and 2.8 seconds adriftof Dani Sordo. After a long liaison stage that brought the crews to the Colmar region, the day got off to agreat start for the Citroën driver who set the fastest time in the Hohlandsbourg stage (SS9). He did the samething again in Vallée de Munster (SS11) and reclaimed the lead in the overall classification. Petter Solberglost forty seconds in the same stage because of a puncture dropping the Norwegian out of the battle for thelead. Dani Sordo was very much at home on this terrain and the Spaniard hit back in the Grand Ballon stage(SS12) and went back into first place by just 2/10s before the midday remote service halt.
« I’m very happy with my morning. We really enjoyed driving on these stages even if I was a little off the pacein Grand Ballon. Dani is very quick and it won’t be easy to catch him on this type of terrain, all the more so aswe’re not pursuing the same objectives,” explained Ogier at the Colmar service halt. “I’m pushing hard andI’m not taking too many risks as I have to make sure I score points for the Manufacturers’ Championship.”Ogier reeled off three fastest times on the trot in Hohlandsbourg, Firstplan and Vallée de Munsterdominating his rival during the afternoon. He also set another quickest time in the city stage in Mulhouse,which increased his lead to 9.5 seconds.
“Finally, I was really able to go for it during the afternoon. The roads were in a better state than yesterday soit was easier to push,” said the overall leader. “We’ve managed to open up a small gap over Dani, but wecan’t simply try and hold on to our first place if we want to win this rally. The last stage is quite unusual, onlyforty timed kilometers, no service halt and short stages with a lot of gravel. It’s not going to be all that easy,but we’ll do our best to offer the win and the points that go with it to the whole team
The figuresSébastien Ogier / Julien IngrassiaSS9: Hohlandsbourg 1 (9,87 km) 1st 3rd +0.8sSS10: Firstplan 1 (16,50 km) 2nd +0.6s 3rd +1’’1SS11: Vallée de Munster 1 (22,26 km) 1st 1stSS12: Grand Ballon 1 (24,02 km) 4th +3.5s 2nd +0.2sSS13: Hohlandsbourg 2 (9,87 km) 1st 1stSS14: Firstplan 2 (16,50 km) 1st 1stSS15: Vallée de Munster 2 (22,26 km) 1st 1stSS16: Grand Ballon 2 (24,02 km) 4th +2.9s 1stSS17: Mulhouse (3,09 km) 1st 1st
Fastest stage timesDay 1 – SS1: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS2 and 3: Sébastien Ogier (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS4:Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta) – SS5: Ogier – SS6 and 7: Petter Solberg (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS8: DaniSordo (Mini JCW).
Day 2 – SS9: Ogier – SS10: P. Solberg – SS11: Ogier – SS12: Sordo – SS13: Ogier and P. Solberg –SS14 and 15: Ogier – SS16: Latvala – SS17: Ogier.
Best performers: Ogier, 9 fastest times including 1 dead-heat– P. Solberg, 4 including 1 dead-heat 1 –Latvala and Sordo, 2 – Loeb, 1.
Leaders: SS1 and 2 : Loeb – SS3 to 6 : Ogier – SS7: Solberg – SS8 to 10 : Sordo – SS11: Ogier – SS12:Sordo – SS13 to 17: Ogier.
Overall classification day 21 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia Citroën DS3 WRC 2h 42m 23.3s2 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio Mini JCW +9.5s3 P. Solberg / C. Patterson Citroën DS3 WRC +51.9s4 JM. Latvala / M. Antilla Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 36.4s5 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3m 11.0s6 D. Kuipers / F. Miclotte Ford Fiesta RS WRC +5m 59.3s7 A. Araujo / M. Ramalho Mini JCW +6m 08.8s8 H. Solberg / I. Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6m 25.6s9 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7m 16.4s10 P. Campana / S. de Castelli Mini JCW +7m 44.2s