Sťbastien Loeb eases ahead
With 10 of the 2009 Rally de Portugalís scheduled stages contested, both CitroŽn Total WRT C4 WRCs continue to figure on the provisional podium. Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena climbed from overnight third to take the lead after SS9, while Dani Sordo and Marc Marti now follow in third place.

As crews set out for the second full day of competitive action this morning, the conditions were pleasantly mild again in the south of Portugal, with the thermometer exceeding the 20įC mark even before the start of the dayís opening test.

A run of three consecutive fastest times enabled Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena to go clear at the top of the leaderboard: "We started the day in third spot, just 18 seconds behind the leader, so we knew we were in a strong position and we decided to push hard to try to take the lead. This roadsweeping business is a little difficult to understand here because there are places where we are able to make up ground and others where we canít. A lead of five or six seconds wonít be sufficient for tomorrow. The minimum cushion we need is 20 seconds, so we will continue to drive quickly this afternoon."

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti are second on the road today and ended the morningís loop in third place: "Everything went well until the last stage of the loop when Marc called out a long sequence of notes for a blind crest over a left-hand corner followed by a very tight right-hander. I braked a little late and we went straight on. That obviously lost us time but we will continue to push, even though these three stages are very difficult."

After completing Day 1 in sixth place, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt fell to eighth spot when they picked up a puncture on SS9 (Almodovar): "I made a mistake in a corner which didnít figure in our notes. We hit the edge of the road and punctured. I intend to carry on at a quick pace this afternoon, but without taking any unnecessary risks."

A consistent run enabled Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt to check in at the lunchtime service halt in ninth place: "I settled into a good rhythm this morning, despite the odd delicate portion. These stages are quite a challenge and call for extremely precise pacenotes. I think we have made progress since yesterday and we will looking to continue at the same sort of speed this afternoon."

Sťbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the morning in sixth place but were caught out on SS8 (Santa Clara 1). The team will inspect their CitroŽn C4 WRC following its return to service to see whether the crew can rejoin tomorrow under the SupeRally ruling.

After the 30-minute midday service halt, crews will contest the same three stages this afternoon. SS11 (Santa Clara 2) is scheduled to start at 2.50pm local time.


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