Loeb and Elena close in on Spanish victory


After the opening day on gravel, Rally Spain continued  on the Catalonian tarmac. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were in the lead at the end of the first leg, controlled the gap to their pursuers. Their performanceenabled them to bag the only record still lacking in their incredible results – the highest number of fastest times!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are lying fifth after another puncture bringing the Citroën Total World RallyTeam a step closer to their seventh world title.

Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier tackled the second day of Rally Spain in their Citroën DS3 WRCsconverted into tarmac setup. The day’s three stages to be covered twice represented a total of 144 timedkilometers.

Loeb started the day with a new record by setting the fastest time in El Priorat, the longest stage of the rally.He was quickest again in Riba-Roja del Ebre, the seven-time world champion’s 802nd fastest time in theWRC, beating Markku Alen’s previous record.

Loeb and Elena controlled the race as they pleased with an intelligent combination of attack and calculatedrisks: “We had a good run. The roads were clean in the first loop but a bit dirtier in the afternoon. We didn’ttake any risks, as we didn’t want to lose everything. We had to drive cleanly and not clip the apexes. Secondtime through I preferred to use the dirtier parts of the road rather than cutting the corners.”

“Tomorrow, we’ll have to tackle the stages in the same spirit. I’ll be especially careful in the first one, as theground will be very cold. Jari-Matti Latvala is pushing hard, but we’re sure that second place will go to MikkoHirvonen. The only thing we have to do is to make it to the end and stay in front,” summed up the overallleader.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia had a more problematic day due to a puncture midway through SS7.“We started out with the aim of catching Mikko Hirvonen, but the second puncture stopped us in ourmomentum. We’re now over three minutes behind so there’s not a lot left to hope for,” explained Ogier.“Yesterday, it was my fault but today I don’t understand what happened as we didn’t cut the corner. Nowour aim is to finish the rally and score points for Citroën.”

As the current overall classification stands, Citroën is on the way to winning its seventh manufacturers’ title.

“The situation is as good for us as it was yesterday, but we’ll have to confirm tomorrow and ensure that wescore the results we need,” stated Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. If Sébastien Loeb winsagain tomorrow, he’ll open up a small gap in the drivers’ championship but Mikko Hirvonen is still a bigthreat for the title. The pressure’s there but it’s positive pressure, which drives us to give our very best!”There are still another six stages to go including the Power Stage in Coll de la Teixita for which extra pointswill be awarded.

The figuresSébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena Sébastien Ogier / Julien IngrassiaSS Overall SS OverallSS7: El Priorat 1 (45,97 km) 1st 1st 20e +1m 44.4s 6th +3m 29.7sSS8: Riba-Roja d’Ebre 1 (12,27 km) 1st 1st 4th, +3.2s 5th +3m 32.2sSS9: Punta de les Torres 1 (13,53 km) 2nd +3.2s 1st 4th, +6.4s 5th +3m 36.1sSS10: El Priorat 2 (45,97 km) 2nd +3.2s 1st 3rd, +8.3s 5th +3m 41.2sSS11: Riba-Roja d’Ebre 2 (12,27 km) 2nd +2.3s 1st 4th, +6.4s 5th +3m 41.7sSS12 : Punta de les Torres 2 (13,53km) 4th +2.2s 1st 3rd, +1.9s 5th +3m 41.4sFastest stage timesDay 1 – SS1: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3 WRC) – SS2 and 3: Sébastien Ogier (Citroën DS3 WRC) –SS4 and 5 : Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) – SS6: LoebDay 2 – SS7 and 8: Loeb. SS9 and 10: Latvala – SS11: Dani Sordo (Mini JCW) – SS12: LatvalaBest performers: Latvala, 5 fastest times, Loeb, 4 fastest times, Ogier, 2 fastest times, Sordo, 1 fastesttimeLeaders: SS1 to 3: Loeb – SS4 and 5: Latvala – SS6 to SS12: Loeb.

Overall classification Day 21 S. Loeb / D. Elena Citroën DS3 WRC 1h44m 06.3s2 JM. Latvala / M. Antilla Ford Fiesta RS WRC +27.6s3 M. Hirvonen / J. Lehtinen Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 51.8s4 D. Sordo / C. del Barrio Mini JCW +2m 29.2s5 S. Ogier / J.Ingrassia Citroën DS3 WRC +3m 41.4s6 K. Meeke / P. Nagle Mini JCW +4m 11.9s7 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +4m 49.1s8 H. Solberg / I. Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6m 42.0s9 E. Novikov / D. Giraudet Citroën DS3 WRC +7m 19.8s10 M. Wilson / S. Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8m 48.8s