26 Apr 08
Sweden’s Patrik Sandell will start tomorrow’s final - and longest - day of the Jordan Rally with a two-minute lead, but grave concerns for the health of his Renault Clio. The car developed an overheating problem this morning, which worsened through the afternoon.
Worse still, for Sandell, was the news that Sebastien Ogier has continued to blaze a trail through the afternoon - his pace the perfect accompaniment for the scorching conditions in which the day’s action has taken place.
After only being beaten on one stage this morning, Ogier took a clean sweep through the afternoon in his Citroen C2 Super 1600. Having started the day four and a half minutes and seven places behind Sandell, the Frenchman - who ended the day second - had narrowed the gap to just 1m56s by the close of play.
Asked if he felt his position was safe, Sandell replied: “If the car is okay, then yes. Two minutes should be good, but we don’t have much to do for the engine. We will change the oil, but that’s about it. I think the problem might be related to yesterday, when I was over-revving the engine with the brake trouble. It’s difficult. We have a very long way to go, we just have to hope everything is okay.”
Ogier was, understandably, delighted with his progress. “I though third was possible, but now [Jaan] Molder has problems, we are second. I don’t know if I can win. I will keep on pushing, but we have to be careful still. This is an incredible feeling for me to have come from eighth place to here. I think this is the perfect day for me.”
Molder endured anything but the perfect day. After running in one-wheel-drive through the morning, he then dropped more time - and one position on the leaderboard - with an electrical problem on his Suzuki. “The car stopped in every watersplash. We dropped minutes,” said the depressed Estonian. “It was terrible. What can I do. This has been a very bad day.”
At least he was still in the event, which is more than could be said for Alessandro Bettega. The Italian’s grip on third place was lost when his Clio overheated terminally at the end of SS15. Ireland’s Shaun Gallagher continued to defy the ever-increasing noises emanating from his C2’s gearbox. Smiling broadly at the end of the day, he said: “We’re going to change the oil in the box again, get rid of the filings and then cross our fingers again for tomorrow. It’s amazing!”