All to play on Day Two of the WRC Rallye de France

Day One of the WRC Rallye de France has been concluded with even more drama. After Championship leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroën Total World Rally Team) retired from the rally with engine problems, his team-mate Sebastien Ogier’s overall speed was hamstrung by engine gremlins and saw his marginal lead over the privateer Citroën DS3 WRC of Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) move into the lead after setting the fastest stage time through SS7. This however was changed in the day’s final stage, SS8, when Dani Sordo (MINI WRC Team) storm into the lead past both Ogier and Solberg after he won SS8 to bring his total to two scratch times this weekend.

This year’s rally has also seen the factory Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala struggle to match the pace set by the Citroëns and MINIs of Dani Sordo and Kris Meeke.

Sordo is leading a rally for his new team and highlighting the pace on asphalt of this new rally machine. Has Citroën met their match on sealed surfaces?

Action gets underway tomorrow for Day Two at 08h23.

Overall Standings at the end of Day One:
01) D. Sordo – MINI – 01h 23m 02.1s
02) P. Solberg – Citroën + 1.0s
03) S. Ogier – Citroën + 2.8s
04) K. Meeke – MINI + 54.5s
05) J-M. Latvala – Ford + 01m 13.7s
06) M. Hirvonen – Ford + 01m 20.6s
07) A. Araujo – MINI + 02m 23.1s
08) M. Ostberg – Ford + 02m 36.8s
09) D. Kuipers – Ford + 02m 46.8s
10) H. Solberg – Ford + 03m 18.0s

Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen - Picture by WorldRallyPics.

Out of luck in France

It has emerged that South African Ashley Haigh-Smith and British co-driver James Aldridge (competing in the WRC Academy in WRC Rallye de France) struck a concrete water bridge at maximum speed. Haigh-Smith sustained a broken shoulder and a cracked hip with lower abdominal injuries. It appears Aldridge is largely unscathed. This also means the crew will miss the final round of the series at the WRC Wales Rally GB in November. We wish Ashley and James a speedy recovery!

Sordo claims MINI’s first stage win in 2011

Sebstien Ogier (Citroën Total World Rally Team) is having a hard time keeping the chasing Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) and Dani Sordo (MINI WRC Team) behind him on the WRC Rallye de France on Day One. With six stages completed, Ogier still leads by a margin of 5.0sec. The MINI John Cooper Works WRC has claimed its first stage win thanks to the brave driving from the asphalt specialist Sordo.

The fastest Ford driver is Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team), over a minute off the pace of the leading Citroëns on the asphalt speed tests.

Overall Standings after SS6:
01) S. Ogier – 56m 16.9s
02) P. Solberg + 5s
03) D. Sordo + 6.2s
04) K. Meeke + 37.0s
05) M. Hirvonen + 01m 05.3s
06) M. Ostberg + 01m 06.5s
07) J-M. Latvala + 01m 20.6s
08) A. Araujo + 01m 41.9s
09) D. Kuipers + 01m 48.2s
10) H. Solberg + 02m 24.3s

The Other Sebastien is on top after SS4

The WRC Rallye de France has seen its leader board dramatically transform early. At the end of the monster 36-km stage SS3, Sebastien Loeb (Citroën Total World Rally Team) has retired from the rally with engine problems. This is the French brand’s first full mechanical retirement from a rally this season for a DS3 WRC.

Kimi Raikkonen (ICE1 Racing Citroën DS3 WRC) has also not survived SS3.

Overall Standings after SS4:
01) S. Ogier – 41m 26.6s
02) P. Solberg +5.0s
03) D. Sordo +6.6s
04) K. Meeke +28.0s
05) M. Østberg +53.5s
06) M. Hirvonen +01m 00.1s
07) J-M. Latvala +01m 19.7s
08) A. Araujo +01m 20.4s
09) D. Kuipers +01m 25.6s
10) K. Block +01m 53.8s

Tanak is in charge of the SWRC in France

Ott Tanak leads the SWRC field after an eventful morning. Juho Hanninen made the early running until he picked up a puncture on SS3 and had to stop to change the wheel. Hermann Gassner Jnr also briefly stopped on SS3, leaving Eyvind Brynildsen to lead the challenge to Tanak. He trails by 59.2s with Martin Prokop a further 20.2s behind.

Overall Standings after SS4:
01) O. Tanak – 43m 33.7s
02) E. Brynildsen +59.2s
03) M. Prokop +1m 19.4s
04) J. Maurin +1m 42.4s
05) B. Sousa +2m 07.3s
06) H. Gassner jr +2m 11.1s
07) J. Hanninen +2m 12.9s
08) N. Al-Attiyah +19m 52.1s

BLITZ: Ashley Haigh-Smith at the WRC Rallye de France – SS1

South Africa’s first WRC Academy entrant, Ashley Haigh-Smith has finished SS1 in the final spot of the WRC Academy leader board. This his first full rally on asphalt is a steep learning curve for the driver from Cape Town. He is currently 48.2s behind Class leader Yeray Lemes and is 21.9s adrift of his closest rival Molly Taylor.

Two stages in: Citroën at the top

After the opening two stages of the WRC Rallye de France, the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier top the time sheets early on in this asphalt event.

Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s Jari-Matti Latvala is flying the Ford flag in a sandwich of Citroëns and a MINI.

SS3 is a 36km monster stage followed by a 13km speed test before the Service Park.

Overall Results after SS2:
01) S. Loeb – 14m 48.8s
02) S. Ogier +0.1s
03) J-M. Latvala +5.3s
04) P. Solberg +5.4s
05) D. Sordo +6.1s
06) M. Hirvonen +7.3s
07) M. Østeberg +14.2s
08) K. Raikkonen +17.1s
09) A. Araujo +28.1s
10) D. Kuipers +28.8s