SS2: Sébastien Ogier shines again in the dark
Dani Sordo still second with his Citroën DS3 WRC
There was no stopping Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier as the new world champion claimed his second consecutive stage victory to extend his lead to 6.6sec over Dani Sordo with just one stage remaining of tonight’s opening leg.
Falling temperatures meant the asphalt was becoming increasingly damp, but the Frenchman was error free and 3.6sec quicker than his Spanish rival. “I felt a bit more confident than in the first stage. It was damp in a few places but the grip stayed the same,” added the Polo R pilot.
Sordo admitted he ‘pushed really, really hard’ but couldn’t get close to Ogier. “At the end of the stage there was some colour on the road surface. I thought maybe it was humid, but it looked like oil and I wasn’t so confident,” said the Citroen DS3 driver.
As in the opening test, Jari-Matti Latvala was third in the second factory Polo R, the Finn 5.6sec behind his team-mate. “I felt in some places that the road looked damp and I was a bit too careful with the braking. I tried to brake like a racing driver and wasn’t so aggressive,” he added.
Thierry Neuville was next up in his Ford Fiesta RS, 3.2sec behind Latvala, but the Belgian was far from happy. “It’s not working at all. I struggled in the dark and struggled with the settings. I couldn’t do more,” he explained.
Evgeny Novikov’s Fiesta RS and the final Polo R of Andreas Mikkelsen completed the top six, the Norwegian struggling to find a good rhythm in the opening and closing sections of the tests.
Mikko Hirvonen remains fifth overall in his DS3 after going seventh fastest in the stage. “For some reason it was more difficult to find a good rhythm and I struggled a bit. It was a bad drive,” said the Finn.
He was followed by Hayden Paddon, the New Zealand driver having his hands full judging the braking and the speed in the darkness on his first outing in a WRC car.
However, Paddon was faster than his Fiesta RS colleague Mads Ostberg, who cut a dejected figure at the finish.
“I can’t find any rhythm. The car is OK and it’s possible to go faster, but I don’t trust my pace notes. I can feel my notes are changing. At the beginning they are quite easy, but they get harder and harder through the stage,” said the Norwegian.
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