Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena hold on to top spot
With 13 of the 22 stages of the 2009 Rally Norway behind them, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have succeeded in opening up the biggest gap the leaderboard has seen since Thursday evening’s start. The crew of the N°1 Citroën C4 WRC enjoys a cushion of 10.7 seconds over Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen, with Dani Sordo and Marc Marti still following in fourth place. The Citroën Junior Team’s ranks are currently led by Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt.

The second day of the event kicked off at 6.20am when Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena recovered their Citroën C4 WRC from parc ferme in Hamar with the thermometer showing minus 18°C.

The morning’s loop of four stages took competitors from the service park to the former Winter Olympics host-town Lillehammer, and the five-time World Champions succeeded in showing that they were in control by posting all four fastest times.

"Road order didn’t make any difference this morning," claimed Seb. "Daniel and I pushed as hard as we could, and I think Mikko did the same. Running ahead of them on the road means we don’t have a perfect picture of the way the rally is unfolding. We consequently did what we could to pull out a gap because we are in no position to control from in front. The conditions are perfect and I am thoroughly enjoying the fight. We haven’t made any mistakes so far and we’re having great fun."

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti have succeeded in defending fourth spot and are more than a minute down on the leaders. "I didn’t feel totally confident to begin with this morning. There wasn’t much grip and I had difficulty turning my Citroën C4 WRC into the corners the way I wanted to," observed Dani. "We tried to adjust the set-up before the long stage but we broke the anti-roll bar attachment. That doesn’t explain all the time we dropped, though. I hope we succeed in finding a better pace this afternoon."

The Citroën Junior Team’s day began with work on the car during the short early service halt when the team decided to change the starter motor on Evgeny Novikov’s C4 WRC. The Russian driver incurred a one-minute time penalty before setting off for the stages: "We had a problem with the gearbox. I wasn’t able to shift down and we hit a snow wall. I hope things go better this afternoon."

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the day in ninth place but were slowed by an alternator problem: "We’re just glad to have made it back to service! Our alternator failed on the first stage. We managed to make repairs after the finish, but it failed again on the following test and then packed up for good at the start of the long 27km test. We finished the loop in ’road section’ mode in order to consume as little electricity as possible and not run the battery completely flat. It ended up holding all the way to the service-park, although we had to push the car for last 10 metres or so. The problem has cost us a big chunk of time, plus time penalties, but we will be able to return for this afternoon’s run. The most important thing here is to get as many competitive kilometres under our belts as we can."

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt focused on putting in a mistake-free run, despite a small problem with their brakes: "I love these stages and the snow. I’m just disappointed we had to contest them with a problem. Apart from the brakes, though, my car is running very well and I will try to make the most of that second time round…"

After a stop at the Viking Ship in Hamar for the 30-minute lunchtime service halt, competitors set off for a second attempt at the same loop. SS14 (Mountain 2) is scheduled to start at 1.15pm.

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