Both CitroŽn C4 WRCs on the provisional podium
After claiming the fastest time on yesterday eveningís Killeri super-special, Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena posted two further best times on the first competitive loop of the 2009 Rally Finland this morning. With five stages behind them, both CitroŽn Total World Rally Team C4 WRCs figure on the provisional podium.

The event kicked off on Thursday evening with the first visit to the Killeri super-special which saw Sťbastien Loeb and Dani Sordo set the top two times in front of a packed house. The CitroŽn Junior Teamís two nominated drivers Sťbastien Ogier and Evgeny Novikov were respectively fourth and fifth.

Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena responded to the two fastest times posted by Mikko Hirvonen first thing this morning by adding two more stage wins to their name to complete the opening loop in second place, 3.6 seconds off the lead, and closely tailed by Dani Sordo and Marc Marti in third spot, 11.6s down.

"The first part of the morning wasnít easy for us," admits Sťbastien Loeb. "We dropped time in the first two tests but we then managed to close the gap over the next two stages. I had trouble finding the ideal pace before we made some adjustments to the differential and damper settings in the middle of the loop. To drive at 100 per cent here, you need to have total faith in your car and notes. I felt much more comfortable in the second half of the loop, and there are still one or two things we can improve. Itís close, and we will really need to drive flat out if we are to claw back time."

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti follow in third place thanks to an excellent run this morning: "My car is easy to drive. I am very happy with my position and I have a very good feeling with my car. I dropped a little time in the last stage which was narrower and strewn with gravel. We will make a few changes to the set-up to make it even more competitive for the second pass. We are driving flat out and the pace is extremely fast."

This weekendís event is new to CitroŽn Junior Team runners Sťbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in a WRC car. The outgoing Junior World Champions are ninth overall: "We started cautiously to check our pace notes, and that is very important on this eventís highly specific stages. We will now try to up our pace this afternoon. Our objective is to stay on Henningís tail and mix it with the Finns. We still have a great deal to learn before we can go as quickly as the front-runners. My car is handling perfectly and we are continuing to accustom ourselves to the niceties of this rally."

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt ended the loop just outside the toop-10: "I felt comfortable this morning, but I made a small mistake on the second stage. We were a bit too quick over a crest which came just before a junction and we overshot. That cost us a few seconds. My car is running like clockwork and its handling over the jumps is fantastic. I will try to push a little harder this afternoon."

Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt went off on SS2 (Jukojšrvi) and stopped for good with rear-left suspension damage on SS3 (Kruununperš). The CitroŽn Junior Team is waiting to get the car back to make repairs and try to get the crew back in the event on Saturday under the SupeRally ruling.

The morningís four stages are repeated this afternoon before a second visit to the service area. The day ends with the Killeri super-special which is due to start at 8pm.

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