Loeb é o mais rápido no shakedown da Suécia
Loeb fastest at Sweden Shakedown
Defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb sent a clear signal to his rivals today by setting the fastest time at the pre-Rally Sweden Shakedown test in his Citroen C4 WRC.
The four-hour test took place on a 4km stage in Hagfors, just south of the event's main Service Park. Conditions were perfect for this season's only winter round, with light snow falling throughout the session and a temperature of a chilly -8 degrees Celsius.
Loeb, the leader of the Citroen Total team, made four passes through the stage in his C4 WRC, setting his best time of 1min 53.4sec on his final attempt. Returning to the Service Park, the six time World Champion told wrc.com he was satisfied with the set-up of his car but warned that stage conditions could make this a very difficult event.
"My car felt okay, no problems, but Shakedown is a bit special I think compared to the first pass through the stages we will have tomorrow," he said. "In the stages there is snow and a lot of slippery conditions but the Shakedown was full of gravel so there was a lot of grip. Friday's first stage has a good ice base, on the second there was just snow on the recce, and for me that's not good. We're very close to the gravel underneath, so the second pass will be rough and hard for the tyres.
"I don't have much experience of the tyres in these conditions, but for sure we'll start to lose some studs. I don't know how to save the tyres on a surface like this. We'll have to see."
Loeb's Citroen team-mate Dani Sordo was his closest rival, in a time 1.4sec slower. "My car set-up feels really good, I'm really happy, but we stopped after our fourth pass because the surface was completely gravel and we would have destroyed the tyres," said the Spaniard. "The grip we get with these tyres on gravel is just incredible, but if the surface goes back to snow after 10 or 11kms, and the tyres are worn out, then we could be in trouble."
Jari-Matti Latvala was third quickest in his BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team Focus RS WRC, while his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen was fourth quickest in another Focus.
Five time Rally Sweden winner Marcus Gronholm rounded off the top five times in his Ford Focus - a car he last tackled a WRC rally with in 2007. "Once we got the seat position right the car felt okay," he said. "It feels very like the old car, but a little bit better in the engine and the suspension areas. It's good."
On his first WRC shakedown in a Citroen C4 WRC, former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen set the 11th fastest time, six seconds slower than Loeb.
The opening stage of the rally, the 1.9km Karlstad Super Special Stage, gets underway on Thursday evening at 2004hrs. Stage and split times will be streamed LIVE and FREE here on wrc.com.
Here are the Shakedown times of the leading WRC drivers:
1. LOEB. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:53.4
2. SORDO. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:54.8
3. LATVALA. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:55.8
4. HIRVONEN. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 1:56.0
5. GRONHOLM. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:56.2
6. P. SOLBERG. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:56.3
7. OGIER. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:57.4
8. H.SOLBERG. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:57.6
9. OSTBERG. Subaru Impreza WRC 09. 1:59.0
10. RAIKKONEN. Citroen C4 WRC. 1:59.3
11. WILSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 1:59.4
12. AL QASSIMI. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 2:00.8
Acho que foi um bom shakedown para Kimi. Ficou entre os 10 mais rápidos. Mas não sou especialista...só estou aprendendo...hahahaha... Vamos ver o que vai rolar no rali!