Citroen Total World Rally Team drivers Sebastien Ogier and Sebastien Loeb sit in first and second position respectively at the end of the first day of the Jordan Rally.
Ogier will have to sweep the road for his teammate on the final day, but has built up a 31.6 second advantage, after Loeb opted to slow down to ensure a good road position.
Ogier took the lead from Loeb on the final stage of the morning loop. “We kept up a good pace in the first three stages without taking big risks,” said Ogier when he returned to the service park at midday. “The gaps between the front-runners are small and yet again we see that sweeping doesn't have as much importance as in previous years. In some places the road is so dirty that even the repeated passage of the cars isn't cleaning it. We'll have to think about the strategy to adopt for the second loop. To stay in front and open the road tomorrow, I think we'll have to pull out a minimum gap of around twenty seconds.”
Having taken a flat-out approach to the afternoon loop, Ogier was left with a good lead at the end of the day.
“We suspected that all the drivers would adopt the same strategy, but thanks to our fourth place on the road we were able to cope with that,” he said at the end of the day. “We decided to push as hard as we dared to pull out the biggest possible gap. Thirty seconds isn't bad but even so it's not all that big a cushion. We'll have to continue to push as three other drivers are still in with a chance of winning. We've already come out on top in such a situation in the past, so I don't feel either relaxed or stressed. There'll be a bit less sweeping tomorrow. I feel that we can win this rally.”
“We let slip around ten seconds on purpose to encourage our rivals to go quicker and stay in front,” said Loeb. “Without taking this gamble, I think I'd probably have finished the day at the front with Ogier with Solberg and Latvala a few seconds behind. In these conditions my chances of a podium finish were virtually nil. We had to try something: maybe I've given too much away, maybe it'll pay off. We'll see.”
Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg are both only just behind Loeb in the standings. “Before thinking about catching my team-mate, I'll have to make sure those two stay behind. By being second out on the road, it seems possible but not certain.”