25 Apr 04
Spaniard Dani Sordo holds a slim 1.1 second overall lead in the 2008 Jordan Rally at the end of the first day of competition.
Sordo made a brilliant start to the event, taking the lead on the first stage, and winning three of the morning’s four speed tests. But in the afternoon his lead came under increasing pressure from his own Total Citroen team-mate Sebastien Loeb who now holds second.
“It’s been good today, but very difficult,” said Sordo. “The conditions in the car were very hot and I’ve struggled a bit with my pace notes. This morning I was helped by a good road position but on the repeat pass the other drivers were closer. Tomorrow I will have to go first on the road, so that’s not going to be easy but okay, I’ll do my best to attack and try and keep the lead.”
Loeb said he was unhappy with the set-up of his Citroen C4 WRC on the morning loop of stages, and by the end of the third test he was in fifth place, 21 seconds adrift of Sordo. But after changing the set-up of his car at the midday service he was much happier with his car’s balance and this was reflected in his times. He won two of the afternoon’s four stages and closed the gap on his team-mate.
“I wasn’t confident on the first loop - every time I tried to push I made a mistake,” said Loeb. “I didn’t know what it was - my driving, the road position or the car. Before SS4 we began to change the set-up a bit and it was better, we changed it some more in the service and had more improvement. Now we’re in a good position just one second behind Dani and that’s good for the Citroen team - but there’s still a long way to go.”
Jari-Matti Latvala of the BP-Ford Abu Dhabi team holds overnight third place, 7.4 seconds behind Loeb. The Finn finished in the top-four on every stage of the day and increased his pace as he became more familiar with the conditions. He set the fastest time on SS5.
“I started very, very carefully because I wasn’t confident on the slippery roads,” said Latvala. “But we did the first four okay, and after the service I found the confidence and my feeling improved. Things were good right up until the last stage when we lost about five seconds because my rear tyres were completely finished. Tomorrow looks like being okay. My road position is good and I’m looking forward to the battle with Sebastien, Dani and my team-mate Mikko.”