Seb sets up a showdown in NZ

Seb sets up a showdown in NZFrom Citroen Press [ 30/08/2008 ].
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The second day of the 2008 Rally New Zealand saw everyone at Citroën Total put in a masterful performance that has put the team in a strong position going into Sunday's leg. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are overnight third with their C4 WRC, just 13.3 seconds behind the leader, while Dani Sordo/Marc Martí follow in fourth place, a little more than 15s off the lead. Both Citroën crews are now looking forward to tomorrow's loop in the Whaanga Coast region to try to pull off a top result.

With 130km of competitive action to the northeast of Hamilton on the menu, today's leg featured a unique
format of five stages to be covered just once each, plus the weekend's second attempt at the Mystery Creek
super-special.

"With an overnight deficit of 28s to make up, we had no other choice than to push as hard as we could," was
Sébastien Loeb enthusiastic response to all those who asked him this morning how he saw the second leg
unfolding. The reigning World Champions went on to apply that plan to the letter as they set off in hot
pursuit of first place. They kicked off the day by clawing back 7.7s over the celebrated Port Waikato test
(SS6) and then shaved a further 3.1s off the leader's advantage on Possum (SS7), the weekend's
northernmost test. Next up was the awesome Franklin stage (ES8/31.58km) which saw Seb and Daniel pull
back 10.4s of the remaining deficit of 17.2s, while the lunchtime visit to the super-special saw them reduce
the gap to 5.3s by the midday break.

"Running second on the road is effectively better than being first through the stages," recognised Sébastien
after the day's first group of stages. "Even so, we still had to push extremely hard and not make any
mistakes. Thankfully, our car performed faultlessly and we managed to make up much of the gap. We will
see how things pan out over this afternoon's two long stages which could well be decisive."

Dani Sordo and Marc Martí were all smiles after the morning's run. "Running fourth on the road today was an
advantage," commented the 2005 Junior World Champion. "It was nice to see my times get closer to those of
the front-runners. The gap is coming down, although I continue to lose time on the slower, more technical
portions because I still lack experience of this event. However, if I compare my times with those I posted
here in 2007, I can see that I am improving, and that is very encouraging."

As anticipated, the afternoon's loop turned out to be very important. "We managed to move ahead after
SS10," reported Sébastien. "However, along with the team, we worked out that 4.2s wasn't a big enough
lead to take into the finalday if we were first on the road. We regretfully let our rivals pass us again, although
that's not really my vision of rallying which should be about driving faster than the others and not having to
fift: There are nonetheless rules we have to exploit. We'll see tomorrow whether we made the right choice."
Dani and Marc profited from the jostling for position going on between the three crews ahead of them on the
leaderboard to consolidate their grip on fourth place and close in on the podium. "This afternoon's two stages
went very well for us," beamed Dani. "We really enjoyed ourselves after making some small modifications to
the set-up of our C4. I pushed as hard as I could and that paid off. We will now keep a close eye on the
scrap that's going on in front of us. It could all work out in our favour…"

"Today's leg went well for us, and Sébastien and Daniel succeeded in moving ahead with one stage to go,"
observed Olivier Quesnel. "However, after concerting with Seb, we decided we would have the best chance of
winning if they weren't first on the road tomorrow. Dani and Marc had a very positive day and posted some
outstanding times this afternoon. They're also in a good position to score welcome points for Citroën.
Tomorrow's action takes place to a magnificent backdrop and it will be up to us to do all we can to score a
top result…"