02 Aug 08
We caught up with the top five drivers as they arrived back in Jyvaskyla for a 30-minute service.
1. Sebastien Loeb: “At the moment it’s okay but on the last one (SS18) I pushed hard and hit a few stones in the road. They were right on the line, and you don’t see them until - bang - you’ve hit them. The second pass is always a bit more difficult for cars and tyres - but the tyres look good, no problems. We have kept the lead since this morning but after seven stages we’ve only increased it by 3.4secs. It’s a good fight with Mikko and so far it’s going well. I’m not anxious about losing the lead. In my head I’m far from victory, because the roads here are so fast and so difficult and we’re both pushing so hard. There’s still a long way to go. If I am first on the road again tomorrow it shouldn’t be a problem - I don’t think the stages will have as much gravel on them as today’s.”
2. Mikko Hirvonen: “It’s still a close battle but it’s not over yet. Sebastien and I both hit big stones on Surkee (SS18) and that just proves that anything can still happen. If I am going to win this rally I have to go absolutely flat out on the stages this afternoon. That’s all I can do.”
3. Dani Sordo: In general its okay but I lost some time on the last 5km of the final stage in the loop (SS18). It was very narrow and slow I didn’t have a good feeling. I need to keep pushing because there are some fast drivers behind me. With his penalty Henning is about 20 seconds back and behind him is Chris. Both are dangerous but I think the most dangerous for me is Atkinson.”
4. Henning Solberg: I got a 10 second penalty for a jump start on SS16 because my handbrake wasn’t working properly. Apart from that everything is alright. The last stage (SS18) was okay, not perfect, but okay. My plan is to keep pushing where it feels good, but if my feeling is not good I will back off. Yes there is some pressure to catch Sordo but I’m not going to force it if I don’t have a good feeling. That’s when you go off the road.”
5. Chris Atkinson: "We had a good, consistent run through the last three stages. I hit a couple of rocks and had dust in my eyes because my door window had stuck down, but otherwise it was fine. I’m not thinking about going after Sordo at the moment. There’s still a long way to go and I think this afternoon’s stages are going to be very tough. Whoever gets a good feeling there can make a big difference, but we’ll going to have to take some risks if we’re to close the gap. Twenty seconds is a lot of time to make up in Finland. On the first pass through new stages it’s easy not to have a note quite right; they’re the risks that Mikko and Sebastien are taking and it depends if we’re prepared to take those risks. I guess we’ll decide when we get to the first corner.”