Sun and shade. This is the feeling of the CitroÃ«n team tonight after the first leg of Rally Argentina. The pleasure of seeing "El Matador" Carlos Sainz leading the rally and the rookie SÃ©bastien Loeb lying in fifth overall, is compensating for...
Sun and shade. This is the feeling of the Citroën team tonight after the first leg of Rally Argentina.
The pleasure of seeing "El Matador" Carlos Sainz leading the rally and the rookie Sébastien Loeb lying in fifth overall, is compensating for the disappointment caused by the retirement of Colin McRae on SS9.
Carlos Sainz' first place after thirteen stages is not a surprise. The Madrid based driver has taken part in the Argentinien event twelve times and this experience allows him to understand the terrain.
"It's difficult here because of the various types of stages. We have to find the best set-up for every loop, as well as finding the right pace for every stage. I think we've done quite well today. The only problem we had was a loss of efficiency in the power steering that we fixed after SS6, and a stalled engine after an overshoot in SS9 which cost us seven to eight seconds."
During the first loop of four stages, Sébastien's knowledge of the event was limited to the two runs he was permitted on the recce earlier this week. "During this morning's stages I felt I could improve the car's handling. We fine-tuned the set-up and the times immediately improved. I didn't change anything at the next service, except that we increased the height of the ground clearance to prevent the car from any road damage for the second pass through the stages. The only problems we had were an overshoot in SS9, and a spin in a narrow section on SS12. I am happy tonight because my goal was to keep in contact with the front-runners. I hope I can continue like this tomorrow".
Colin McRae started the day cautiously. "I had to find my full confidence and I also didn't want to make any mistakes". Following this tactic, Colin was lying seventh only 41 seconds behind the leader when he was forced to retire after his car accidentally ignited in stage 9.
"Loosing one car in such circumstances is disappointing, concluded team boss Guy Frequelin. "But what we have achieved with Carlos and Sébastien today, proves that we have the performance. There are still two legs to go, the competition will be difficult but we will do our maximum to try to win"