Loeb leads as Citroen dominates
|By Matt Beer||Friday, July 9th 2010, 09:18 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb is in complete command of Rally Bulgaria after just two stages - and Citroen fills the top five places with Kimi Raikkonen delivering his best rallying form so far to push the Fords back to sixth and seventh.
The first asphalt round of the 2010 world championship was always expected to favour Loeb and Citroen, but the extent of the C4s' dominance on this morning's opening loop is a blow to Ford.
Loeb has been faster on both stages so far and leads Citroen Junior's Sebastien Ogier by 16 seconds, the Portugal winner having taken second from factory driver Dani Sordo on SS2.
Petter Solberg has settled in quickly with new co-driver Chris Patterson, setting the second-fastest SS2 time. The Solberg Citroen is just 1.8s behind Sordo in fourth.
In fifth place, Raikkonen is confirming predictions that he would raise his game once on asphalt. Although unable to keep up with his fellow Citroen drivers and 34.3s down on Loeb, he is 7.3s in front of Mikko Hirvonen in the best of the struggling Fords.
Hirvonen admitted his performance on the opening stage had not been good enough.
"Can't be too proud of that, it wasn't a good start," he said. "Couldn't get a rhythm."
Jari-Matti Latvala is just behind Hirvonen in seventh, while Stobart Ford's new signing P-G Andersson is building up his confidence on his return to both WRC machinery and asphalt in eighth, comfortably clear of team-mate Matthew Wilson, who runs 10th behind Hungarian driver Frigyes Turan.
Regular Stobart driver Henning Solberg is just outside the top 10 as he tries the S2000 Ford for the first time.
Pos Driver Car Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Loeb Citroen 32m42.3s 2. Sebastien Ogier Citroen + 16.0s 3. Dani Sordo Citroen + 18.6s 4. Petter Solberg Citroen + 20.4s 5. Kimi Raikkonen Citroen + 34.3s 6. Mikko Hirvonen Ford + 41.6s 7. Jari-Matti Latvala Ford + 46.7s 8. P-G Andersson Ford + 1m19.3s 9. Frigyes Turan Peugeot + 1m33.8s 10. Matthew Wilson Ford + 2m01.8s