Citroen duo Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo maintained complete control of Rally Spain, while team bosses confirmed the pair will remain at the team next season.
Loeb to remain a Citroen man
Citroen duo Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo maintained complete control of Rally Spain yesterday, as Oliver Quesnel, the French manufacturer's team director, confirmed the pair will remain at the team next season in the World Rally Championship. "Dani and Sebastien will be driving for Citroen next year. It's official. We agreed everything so that is done," said Quesnel, who also revealed Junior team prospect Sebastien Ogier will retain his seat in 2010.
Having watched a Citroen quartet win every one of the six stages in Rally Spain's second leg yesterday, Quesnel also added he would not object to Loeb driving a Formula One car in November's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Quesnel's 2010 team announcement ends speculation five-time world champion Loeb will make a full-time switch to circuit-based motorsport next year. The Frenchman, who trails BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen in the drivers' table by five points, is back to his dominant best.
Loeb has won the Catalonia event four years running and Citroen are on course for a fifth consecutive one-two finish in the Tarragona region - a result which would secure them a second successive manufacturers' title. Sordo and Loeb exchanged the lead throughout day two, winning three of the day's six stages - Ogier and Petter Solberg shared the other three stage wins. "It's very equal," said Loeb. "I'm happy with my drive, and it seems that all the Citroens are fast."
Loeb leads Sordo by 1.5secs. But with just six stages remaining today, they lead Hirvonen by more than 45secs, with Solberg fourth. "I'm not really sure why I'm a bit slower - the feeling is still okay," said Hirvonen. Hirvonen's Ford teammate, Jari-Matti Latvala, trails fifth-placed Ogier by more than a minute. Following an engine fire which forced his retirement on day one, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalid al Qassimi mounted a strong recovery yesterday. Al Qassimi, starting leg two in 42nd place, posted a string of top-12 stage times, climbing 26 positions to 18th place overall.