IRC: Citroen Rallye Sanremo preview

An Italian escapade for the Citroen DS3 R3 Having swept to victory in Ireland and France, the Citroen DS3 R3 now moves to Italy from September 24-25 for the 52nd Rallye Sanremo. The Italian event is more than just a legendary rally: it is also a...

An Italian escapade for the Citroen DS3 R3

Having swept to victory in Ireland and France, the Citroen DS3 R3 now moves to Italy from September 24-25 for the 52nd Rallye Sanremo. The Italian event is more than just a legendary rally: it is also a brand new challenge for the DS3, which will meet some fierce opposition on specialised territory. The car will be entrusted to the expert hands of local star Elwis Chentre, with the firm aim of winning its class once more on its first appearance on Italian soil.

Again it will be a tough task for Citroen's new baby, which will have to demonstrate its adaptability in the face of new territory and a new type of event. The Rallye Sanremo has always been reputed as a particularly challenging event where the crews face narrow roads and a seemingly unending sequence of corners. It can be considered a genuine finishing school for drivers and teams in the pursuit of perfection. The 102 competitors will set off for 220 competitive kilometres of stages, including the classic night stage on Monte Bignone. This fearsome stage, which is 44 kilometres long, pushes machinery to the limit, while uncertain weather is another factor that frequently spices up the show. The DS3 R3 is now looking forward to the next chapter in the history of its development. It will be able to rely upon the experience of Elwis Chentre and his co-driver Erica Pogliano to recreate the success of its first two outings, which resulted in Group R victory.

Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Racing's customer competition department, commented: "We're delighted to give the car to an Italian crew that have proved their capabilities already in the Citroen C2. The Sanremo Rally constitutes a new challenge for the DS3 R3, which will be confronted with its direct rival under unfamiliar circumstances. The objective will remain the same: to try and win the two-wheel drive category while refining the car set-up."

The rally will get underway in a week's time, in the `City of flowers'. The crews will leave Sanremo at 1300 en route for Coldirodi, the first stage of the Sanremo Rally. Several stages later they will end the day on the mammoth `Ronde' test, run at night.

Three questions to... Elwis Chentre

You've not taken part in the development of the DS3 R3 so the car will be all-new to you on the Sanremo Rally. How are you going to tackle the event?

"The DS3 R3 has already got off to a good start, and having driven both the C2 S1600 and the C2-R2 Max, I know that these are easy cars to drive, whatever your driving style. I think we'll quickly get a good feeling with the DS3, which will allow us to get into the thick of the action straight away."

You know the rally well, having taken part in it five times. What are its characteristics?

"Sanremo is a key event for any driver. It's a very difficult rally, both mentally and physically, where you can encounter all sorts of different conditions. The roads are very narrow with lots of corners and grip changes. It's also one of those rare events that include a long night stage. Finally, the weather is a crucial element when it comes to tyre choice. The service park is by the seaside so conditions are often completely different high up in the surrounding mountains. More than ever, the car and the set-up are decisive factors if you are aiming for victory."

You've always driven Citroens: from the C2 S1600 to the Xsara WRC as well as the C2-R2 and the C2-R2 Max. What has motivated your choice?

"I would say without a doubt that it's the reliability and the enjoyment of driving the cars. We've taken so many victories with Citroen and as far as I can remember we've not had any mechanical problems. Also, the cars have a truly adaptable approach to all sorts of different terrain thanks to the huge range of available set-ups. There is also constant support from Citroen Racing, which allows us to always make the best choices and become increasingly competitive."

-source: citroen

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Other rally
Teams Citroën World Rally Team