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Page last updated at 13:36 GMT, Saturday, 24 October 2009 14:36 UK

Rally GB diary - Saturday

Gareth Rhys Jones
By Gareth Rhys Owen
BBC Sport Wales at the GB Rally

Sebastien Loeb kept up his fierce pace on the second day
Sebastien Loeb kept up his fierce pace on the second day

Race day in the World Rally Championship is long... very long.

Saturday's procession left the service centre in Cardiff Bay at 0700.

They wouldn't return for another 14 hours, having driven 300 kilometres and repeated themselves almost to death in countless interviews for the ever-hungry media.

It's a shame, however, that the day couldn't have been extended even further.

For the past three years Cardiff has been able to offer an alternative to X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing in the form of the Super Stage.


The premise is simple: Find a stadium, replace the turf with tarmac and cue the drivers.

The drivers hated the distraction of an evening in the Millennium Stadium which had little effect on the final result.

However, most would accept that a short track stage is hugely beneficial to the sport.

There's no denying that while rallying maintains a loyal and fanatical core, the sport has struggled to attract the casual sports fan.

Driving three hours to a forest before spending the same amount of time on a hillside in the rain is not everyone's cup of tea.

But an evening of entertainment in a central location not only caters for the curious but also offers a taste of the rally experience for the whole family.

However, there'll be no repeat this year. A re-jigged World Rally Championship calendar sees the British leg being held a month earlier than usual.

And with the All Blacks rugby team in town in a fortnight the stadium is unavailable, so this year's rally is left to the hardcore supporter.

Those who ventured to the hills and forests of Rhondda, Crychan and Halfway would hardly have been left feeling short-changed.

With the title race still in the balance, the big question was whether defending champion Sebastien Loeb and his rival Mikko Hirvonen would attack or wait for the other to make a mistake.

We got our answer on the first day as both let rip on the Mid Wales countryside and Loeb's Citroen maintained that blistering pace through the second morning.

By lunchtime his lead was starting to look ominous, having stretched it to 25 seconds.

Will he slip up? Five successive world titles says no.


Mud, cars and crashes at GB Rally

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see also
Wales' sporting weekend in photos
22 Oct 09 |  Wales
Rally GB diary
22 Oct 09 |  Rallying
British rally Welsh venue doubt
22 Oct 09 |  Rallying
Rally threat after 2m grant axed
15 Apr 09 |  Wales
Rally star's 50,000 car stolen
17 Feb 09 |  Mid Wales
Rally star's hope after car taken
29 Aug 08 |  Mid Wales
Loeb triumphs in Wales Rally GB
07 Dec 08 |  Rallying
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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