26 Sep 08
Back in January this year Dani Sordo briefly became the fastest driver in the WRC. His winning time on the first stage of Rallye Monte Carlo moved him into the lead, ahead of his Citroen Total team-mate Sebastien Loeb.
Sadly for Sordo the result didn't stick for long. And although he held on to second for much of the rally, a turbo problem on Saturday ultimately dropped him out of winning contention. But after eight gravel rallies - and some more highs and lows - this week the WRC returns to Sordo's preferred surface, asphalt, and the first of three such rallies in the second half of the season.
Crowned J-WRC champion in 2005, Sordo was signed to Citroen's WRC team the following year and his career has been on an upward curve ever since. He finished fifth in the drivers' championship in 2006, fourth in 2007 and has his sights set on third this time. After round nine, Sordo lies fourth in the classification; two points adrift of the man in third, Chris Atkinson, and one ahead of Jari-Matti Latvala.
Will a return to asphalt enable Sordo to move ahead of Atkinson? Or perhaps he'll finally get the better of his team-mate and take his eagerly anticipated first WRC win? Wrc.com put these questions - and more - to Dani before he set off for Trier.
Hi Dani. Where are you now?
I'm at home in Spain. Yesterday (Friday 8 August) I finished testing on gravel roads in Catalunya for Rally New Zealand. Now I have a few days to relax before I leave for the recce in Germany.
Tell us about the testing you have done for Rally Deutschland.
I did two days in Germany; one day in the vineyards and the other in the military camp. Everything was okay. The car doesn?t have too many new things - just some small bits in the suspension, but not a lot has changed. Of course the one big modification for everybody this year is the tyres, but they seemed okay.
Can you beat Sebastien in Germany?
This is the question everybody keeps asking! The answer is I don't know. Of course I'll try, but for me it's important to take points in the manufacturers' and drivers' championships. Making progress in both is the most important thing, but of course I'll try to win in Germany. It's tarmac, I like it and it's a surface I've done well on in the past. But we'll have to see how things go with the new tyre, and what the weather conditions are like.
How much of a threat do you think Francois Duval will be in Germany?
Last year he drove very well in the Xsara, but this year I don't know; there are a lot of unknown factors this time like the tyres and switching to the Ford so I think it will be different. I'm not underestimating him, though. Duval on this surface and especially this rally is very, very fast.
Which is your favourite stage of the rally - why?
For me the vineyard stages are the best, but I don't have a particular favourite. Even though they are slippery, narrow and not too easy, they give a nice sensation to drive. There are a lot of corners - a lot of hairpins - and other ones which are small and fast. The military roads are good too, but a different sort of challenge. I'm looking forward most to the vineyards.
After nine rounds you're fourth in the championship. Is this where you expected to be at this point in the season?
I would like to be in the top three already but I lost a lot of points at the start of the season. In Monte Carlo the turbo broke, in Sweden we had to change the engine and take a time penalty and in Mexico we broke a suspension arm. So we didn't get off to a great start. But even with the problems for now I think it's not bad. There are just two points between me and Chris, so I try to go after him. Chris drove very well in Finland and he had a very good finishing record this year.
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