31 Oct 08
Before Francois Duval’s accident led to the cancellation of SS6, eight cars had already begun the test. For Dani Sordo, however, a turbo problem brought his run to an end almost within sight of the start control.
Sordo, who had been fifth, stopped his Citroen at the 1km mark after encountering a turbo problem. It was the second consecutive WRC retirement for the Spaniard, who crashed out of the last round in Corsica. A team spokesman said they hoped Sordo’s car could be repaired and he could restart Rally Japan as a SuperRally entrant on Saturday.
Rally leader Mikko Hirvonen was the fastest of the six drivers to complete the stage before Duval’s accident. The Finn increased the size of his rally lead from 11.9sec to 22.1sec. “I pushed as hard as I could in there,” said Mikko. “It’s going quite well; I have a nice rhythm now. I’m sure Sebastien is taking things a bit steady; he’s got some speed in reserve but he doesn’t want to make any mistakes.”
Loeb, however, said he wasn’t holding back and had no answer to the speed of Duval and Hirvonen on the previous 13.24km Heper test. “I have to push; this time [SS6] I drove well but the Fords are too fast in the first stage and I don’t know why,” he said. “For the moment I’m still just after third, so I’m fighting with Jari-Matti and Francois.”
Jari-Matti Latvala set the third fastest time but was frustrated to have given away 6.5sec to Hirvonen. “I came though as fast as I could and my driving felt okay but the time is not good,” he said. “I just don’t understand why, but I don’t want to start driving crazy just to try and improve my times.”