26 Apr 08
Sebastien Loeb moved into the lead of the Jordan rally on the first stage of day two.
The defending world champion was 5.1sec faster than any other driver through the opening 14km stage, SS9, and comfortably moved ahead of his team-mate Dani Sordo into the top spot.
He was fastest again on SS10 - the 12km Erak Elimir section - and extended his lead to 16.3sec.
With the longest day of the rally still to come on Sunday, Loeb confirmed his strategy for day two is to build up as big a lead as possible, to counteract the disadvantage of running as first car on the road on the final day.
“I pushed hard from the start because I have to take a good lead today,” explained Loeb. “I made no mistakes, but I was absolutely on the limit.”
After SS9 Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo said he was driving as fast as he was able, but running first the road, and encountering the worst of the loose material, was making it difficult. “I’m happy with the car but there is a lot of gravel today and the road is extremely slippery - especially downhill. I did the best I could,” he said.
Jari Matti-Latvala held third place after SS10 but said he was unhappy with his initial pace. “It was not so good for me, I was driving a little too much sideways and the brakes were getting a little warm at the end,” he said. “I think I was trying a little too hard, so I’ll look to sort that out on the next stages.”
Fourth placed Mikko Hirvonen made up one second on his BP-Ford team-mate over the opening two stages but said he had adopted a cautious start to the day. “There were some big rocks and I did not want to destroy the car, so I was not flat out - that explains why I was off the pace,” he said.