Loeb closes in on top spot
Although Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena continue to figure in third place after this morningís loop, they succeeded in profiting from the first three stages of the Rally díItalia-Sardegnaís second leg to narrow the gap with the provisional leaders. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti have meanwhile moved up from overnight eighth to fifth overall at the Saturday lunchtime break.

Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena began the morning in third place with every intention of taking the fight to the two Ford drivers ahead of them. The five-times World Champions were a little slow on the uptake on the morningís opening test, but they then went on to claim the fastest time on the next two stages. However, a 10-second time penalty for late arrival at the start of Monte Lerno (SS9) annulled any benefit the CitroŽn Total WRT pair might have derived from their performance: "I donít know why we dropped so much time on the first test. Thatís something we will need to look at during service. My car didnít feel comfortable in the ruts which were beginning to form. The rest of morning went much better, though, despite our 10-second penalty for checking in late at the start of the third stage. That deprived us of a good chance to home in on Latvala. Itís by no means over yet, but we will need to do better this afternoon."

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti profited from the morningís run to gain three places in the second CitroŽn Total WRT-run C4 WRC: "We had a good morning and posted some decent times. We will now do what we can to close in on Petter Solberg and try to finish fourth tomorrow. I feel more comfortable on this event than I did last year; itís all coming together quite well."

Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt are continuing to familiarise themselves with the Sardinian terrain, and the CitroŽn Junior Team crew is currently seventh in their C4 WRC: "Todayís first stage was different from the others. I didnít succeed in using the full rev-band, so I was down on power, and I stalled twice on SS8. Then, while trying to select reverse, I broke the manual lever which you need to shift into that gear. The set-up of our car feels good and nicely balanced, so we will continue to push as hard as we can this afternoon."

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt used the dayís first group of stages to make it back into the top-10: "Our car is quick, but I made a small mistake and stalled round an asphalt hairpin on the second test. We then approached the famous Monte Lerno a bit too quickly and landed quite heavily on the front wheels. Thankfully, our car is very strong. I will make a few adjustments to the set-up for the second pass. The first stage is sure to have cut up a lot, so we will need to tread carefully on that one. The other two are smoother, but you still need to watch out for the rocksÖ"

Sťbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia profited from the SupeRally ruling to re-join the event this morning with a competitive car, and their objective now is to gain as much experience as possible: "It was a pretty trouble-free morning for us. Our aim is to learn as much as we can, although the first stage was very different to all the others; there were lots of big stones and deep ruts. I still havenít fathomed out why we dropped so much time on that one. I just donít seem to be quick enough when the conditions are like that. We will see if we need to change the set-up for this afternoon and then basically concentrate on gaining more experience."

The second day of the Rally díItalia-Sardegna continues with a repeat visit to the same loop of stages. The first crew is due back in Olbia at 6.30pm.


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