Rally France: Series leg 1 midday report

Midday wrap: Loeb turns in the perfect morning Despite some pre-event nerves, Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb enjoyed a 100 per cent record through this morning's four Rally of France stages south of the event's base in Strasbourg. The overnight ...

Rally France: Series leg 1 midday report

Midday wrap: Loeb turns in the perfect morning

Despite some pre-event nerves, Citroen driver Sebastien Loeb enjoyed a 100 per cent record through this morning's four Rally of France stages south of the event's base in Strasbourg.

The overnight rain had stopped to leave drying conditions along the Alsace region's most entertaining and action-packed stretches of asphalt. Loeb led from the off, quickest by 3.9 seconds on the opener.

Reaching the start of the second stage, he had a moment of nostaligia. "This is the first stage I drove in rallying," he said. "This is where I made my debut."

The road in the Firstplan stage had changed little in the last 13 years, but the Frenchman's pace down the 16.58 kilometres was considerably more rapid than it had been when he wheeled out his Peugeot 106 all those years ago.

"I forgot about that quickly," said Loeb at the end of the stage - he was fastest again, by the way. "The road was slippery and I had to concentrate!" Loeb reeled off two more fastest times on SS3 and SS4 to arrive at the mid-point remote service in Mulhouse 14.7 seconds out front. For now, everything is going to plan for the Frenchman.

And everything was certainly going to plan for Citroen, with C4 WRCs filling the first four places. Sebastien Ogier is second and already engaging in another battle with C4 privateer Petter Solberg, who was just 4.6 seconds behind after the first four.

"I am flat out," said Ogier, "but I was losing some time in some places. The first stage was quite slippery in some places, quite tricky."

Running fourth on the road, Solberg was already thinking about improving that for the second day. "We have to get a better place on the road for tomorrow," he said. "The road is dirty for us. I was getting a lot of understeer in the corners, after just three cars there is a lot of mud on the road."

Sordo's tale was a similar one, starting one place behind Solberg, the conditions were even tougher for the Spaniard in the Citroen Total World Rally Team C4. "I'm not confident," said Sordo. "I can't find the confidence because I can't find the grip. I can't read the road the way I want to."

First of the non-Citroen's was Jari-Matti Latvala, who ended his morning in the best fashion realistically possible - second quickest to Loeb. The Focus-driving Finn was just five seconds off the back of Sordo, but almost half a minute down on Loeb. Latvala admitted to a couple of small mistakes and a struggle to find the faith in his Ford. It was a similar story in the sister Focus of Hirvonen, who was a distant sixth, more than a minute down at lunchtime.

After the first loop of stages, Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen leads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship in his Skoda, while Thierry Neuville has built close to a half-minute advantage in the J-WRC. Armindo Araujo moved to the front of the Production field after his fellow Mitsubishi driver Hayden Paddon suffered a puncture on the morning's final stage, dropping from the lead to third in P-WRC.

Much of the morning's rally ran late after an ambulance was sent into SS2 to reach a spectator who had been taken ill. Some of the delay was made up at the midday regroup but the rest of this afternoon's itinerary will run 30 minutes late.

-source: wrc

shares
comments
Rally France SS1 results

Previous article

Rally France SS1 results

Next article

Rally France SS7 results

Rally France SS7 results
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Prime

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Prime

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up.

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Prime

Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021