Duel in the sun

The duel begun yesterday in Itea between Sébastien Loeb and Jari-Matti Latvala continued this morning around Mount Kyllini. The Citroën Total World Rally Team driver still holds the overall lead, now by just 2.2s… Meanwhile, Mikko Hirvonen remains fourth overall.

Run on roads in the Peloponnese, the loop of four stages contested this morning featured 75km of timed sections. The rock-strewn, rough gravel roads of the Greek mountains once again witnessed an enthralling duel between the WRC’s big guns, fighting it out to gain a few tenths.

With stage wins on SS10 and SS13, whilst his rival Jari-Matti Latvala went quickest on SS11 and SS12, Sébastien Loeb managed to hang on to a slim lead of 2.2s. “It’s still very tight and I’ll have to push as hard as possible,” confirmed the eight-time World Champion. “On this type of surface and at this pace, there’s always the risk that you’ll pick up a puncture, even though the tyres are sturdy. I think it’ll be even worse this afternoon when we’ll undoubtedly be taking on the roughest, most rock-strewn gravel stages of the season!”

Still fourth overall, Mikko Hirvonen lost some ground to Petter Solberg this morning. “I know that I lost a few seconds on SS12, because I was a little hesitant in some places. On SS13, however, I pushed hard but I still gave away time to Petter. And yet this test was enjoyable to drive, pretty flowing and therefore different to the other three. I don’t know, but for sure, the gaps to those ahead of me and those behind are pretty significant now. Whilst avoiding making any mistakes, I’d like to try and find a better feeling.”

Now seventh overall, Nasser Al-Attiyah said that he had had difficulty finding the right pace: “The stages are so full of potholes and rocks that it is difficult to find the right level of aggression. I don’t want to run the risk of breaking something and maybe I was too cautious, but I’m glad to keep racking up the miles.”

Tenth overall, Thierry Neuville was fairly pleased with his performance: “It wasn’t easy because our starting position meant we were sweeping the road. I think we drove well, perhaps better than yesterday. I hope our job will be a little easier on the second runs, but I’m expecting have to deal with a seriously uneven road surface.”

The competitors will complete the same loop of four stages this afternoon making their way back to the Loutraki service park from 8.20pm onwards.

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