27 Jan 08
Stobart Ford driver Francois Duval was a massive 12 seconds quicker than third placed Chris Atkinson through Sunday's opening stage, narrowing the gap between them from 20 to 8 seconds.
But despite completing the La Bollene Moulinet test five seconds quicker than anybody else, the Belgian insisted he hadn't been on the limit. "Yes it was okay, but I'm not pushing too much or taking any risks," said Duval. "I have gone well on this stage before, and I think today's roads suit me better than yesterdays."
Atkinson set the fifth fastest time and knew where he had gone wrong: "I struggled a bit for grip and lost some of my confidence," said Atkinson. "We'll try and hold him there. I don't need another Superspecial fight like we had last year."
With a rally lead of more than two minutes, and just three proper Alpine stages remaining, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb continues to lead the rally. He remains on course to break another WRC record later today by becoming the only driver ever to win the event five times.