There is very little that one can predict in this sport. A single damp patch, a rock pulled into the ‘racing’ line, a puncture, a sudden rain shower or fog, are just some of the factors that play together or individually to make predicting the leader board near impossible. That is, if your name isn’t Sebastien Loeb.
The all-important fight for the Drivers’ World Rally Championship title has shifted dramatically in the favour of Loeb (Citroën DS3 WRC) after title hopeful Mikko Hirvonen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) crashed out of contention after damaging his radiator in the morning loop. Whether Hirvonen’s car will be repaired in time for the SupeRally cut-off later this evening, will determine whether Loeb has an easier path to a record eighth Championship crown.
The Frenchman has been hounded all the way on this Day Two of the WRC Wales Rally GB by Hirvonen’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta RS WRC). The Finn is in within striking distance of the lead and is seemingly playing a high-speed game of cat-and-mouse with Loeb. Latvala is in the perfect position: chasing Loeb, instead of being pursued and pressured. The 1.1sec overnight margin between these two drivers showcases just how hard both crews are pushing…
Behind this tussle is another one, perhaps even more action-packed. Mads Ostberg (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) is third overall and has been piloting his Ford Fiesta RS WRC to its limits of grip as 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg (Citroën DS3 WRC) is hot on his heels. Solberg is chasing after a podium position come the end of the rally, and Ostberg is aiming for the exact same result. This ding-dong battle has not peaked yet, and we all await tomorrow morning to see the continuation of this thriller.
“We tried to keep up and push hard, but we’ve not had much traction today,” said Solberg. “We’re trying to get the best out of it. The podium is the main thing!”
Tomorrow crews will tackle 128.06km over six stages, the most iconic of the rally: Hafren, Myehrin and Sweet Lamb.
Overnight WRC Standings after Day Two:
01) S. Loeb – 01h 23m 18.3s
02) J-M. Latvala + 01.1s
03) M. Ostberg + 01m 13.5s
04) P. Solberg + 01m 21.3s
05) H. Solberg + 02m 51.7s
06) O. Tanak + 03m 46.0s
07) K. Raikkonen + 03m 47.0s
08) K. Meeke + 03m 51.3s
09) M. Wilson + 03m 59.4s
10) D. Kuipers + 04m 23.2s