16 Aug 08
Sebastien Loeb rounded off a perfect morning’s work on the second day of Rallye Deutschland by wining the fearsome 30km Panzerplatte stage by almost four seconds.
Loeb’s closest challenger was his Citroen Total team-mate Dani Sordo, who holds second place overall, 35sec off the lead.
On target for his seventh consecutive win on the WRC’s German round, Loeb was relaxed and unruffled at the stage end and reported no problems at all.
“It was a clean run, I pushed at the start but in the middle I eased off because I didn’t want to take too many risks,” he said. Overall the morning has been fine; the car is perfect, I have a good rhythm - it’s going okay.”
Like Loeb, Sordo used Pirelli’s hard compound PZero tyre for Panzerplatte and said he was happy with his time. “The car feels much better than it did yesterday, it’s my car again now!” he said. “Seb is a long way ahead, but for me keeping Mikko behind is the most important job. It’s important for the championship.”
Mikko Hirvonen was third fastest, but was increasingly frustrated by his pace - and that of the Citroen’s ahead.
The Finn and his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala had chosen the soft compound tyre for Panzerplatte and Hirvonen’s car crossed the line with the right-hand rear badly worn. “It’s not so good,” said Hirvonen. “It felt okay, but we lost a lot of time and I don’t know where. The car was understeering, but that might be because of tyre wear.”
After declaring himself happier with the set-up of his Ford Focus on today’s first few stages, and making a strong start to the day, Francois Duval dropped around 20 seconds on SS10, and slipped further behind Mikko Hirvonen. The Stobart driver brought his car to the finish without a front bumper and said the conditions were extremely difficult. “The road is destroyed in there,” he said.
Petter Solberg and Chris Atkinson will bring their Subarus back to the midday service in Trier in sixth and seventh positions, while Citroen privateer Urmo Aava is eighth, in the final points scoring place.
As a result of his earlier incident Jari-Matti Latvala collected 30 seconds of penalty time for checking into the remote service three minutes late. On Panzerplatte Latvala lost a few more seconds with a wrong turn. “I missed a junction and had to reverse,” he explained. “This morning my driving isn’t going so well. The car is okay. The problem is me - I’ve lost my rhythm.” The Finn slipped from ninth to tenth place overall.