Sebastien Loeb's co-driver Daniel Elena has admitted he was amazed to see both factory Fords off the road during the second day of the Rally of Portugal.
Eight-time World Rally champion co-driver Elena and Loeb crashed out of the event on the first evening and then expected Ford drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg and their Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen to close the gap on their championship lead. But of the WRC's top quartet, only Hirvonen made it to Saturday unscathed.
"It was unbelievable what happened [with Ford] yesterday. Incredible," said Elena. "The drivers have just to drive to take points for the championships – don't take the risk. And when Jari-Matti crashed then there is less risk, but then Petter crashed as well!"
Elena was more complimentary about Hirvonen's performance.
"Mikko is Mikko, he knew the conditions were bad and so he said: 'OK, if there is more bad conditions then I will take the second place, because if I don't finish then I take nothing'. This is the way to go," said Elena. "Yes, we saw some difficult conditions and a lot of drivers crashing, but this is bad [for Ford]."
Elena said he was not too concerned about the championship situation, despite the fact that Hirvonen would likely take over the lead of the series if he goes on to win the rally.
"For us, first of all it was, 'f**k!' Big crash, very bad for us. But then you look and it's OK for the points. This is only the fourth race, it's very early in the season."