The Citroën DS3 WRCs rack up another double!
In Greece, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored their fifth world championship victory after a thrilling duel with their teammates, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. This result gave Citroën its 22nd doublé in the World Rally Championship, an outright record! Thanks to their 100th podium in the WRC, Loeb and Elena have increased their lead in the Drivers’ World Championship. The Citroën Total World Rally Team too has widened the gap in the Manufacturers’ title chase.
After two long legs, the last day of the Acropolis Rally was like a final sprint with only 65 timed kilometers. But the two passages through Aghii Theodori – a stage that has often decided the outcome of the event – meant that the crews had to tackle it in a humble frame of mind. Sébastien Loeb, the overall leader with only 2.2s in hand over his nearest pursuer, and handicapped by the cleaning phenomenon, knew it would be difficult for him to fight for victory. In the first passage through Aghii Theodori (SS14), Sébastien Ogier overtook the seven-time world champion to lead by a tenth of a second. But Loeb fought back and retook first place in New Pissia 1, also by a tenth!
“I’m in a situation in which I have to take risks to defend my position. I pushed even harder compared to the first two days,” he admitted at the mid-leg halt. “Despite that it went off well and we managed a good damage limitation exercise. As for winning, I don’t know yet. I’ll have to see how big the impact of cleaning is second time through.”
“Seb was very quick and we didn’t make up much time on him. I thought that cleaning would play a more important role this morning. Maybe I didn’t push hard enough. I’ll have to up the pace and take more risks second time though,” added Ogier.
While Loeb stated that he had driven a perfect stage in Aghii Theodori 2, Ogier made the break and pulled out 6.2s over his team-mate. He was back in the lead again and he put himself out of range of a possible attack in New Pissia 2 increasing the gap to over 10 seconds. The 4-kilometer Power Stage changed nothing and Ogier set the quickest time, 9/1000s in front of Loeb: The Citroën drivers scored an additional 2 and 3 points each.
I have to underline the reliability of the DS3 WRC, which had a problem-free three days in a race that was run at high speed.
Ogier savoured his third victory of the season: “This perfect result, rewarded by twenty-eight points, is going to do our championship hopes a lot of good! I’d really like to thank the whole team for two things. One, it gave Seb and I the same chances to battle for victory, and I’m proud to have honoured their trust with a win. Secondly, I have to underline the reliability of the DS3 WRC, which had a problem-free three days in a race that was run at high speed.”
Despite his frustration at having been first out on the road for two days, Loeb also drew positive conclusions: “Before the start I wasn’t gunning for outright victory above all else. I gave everything I had, but race circumstances meant that I wasn’t able to fight on equal terms. I still think I was the quickest. The twenty points I’ve scored will help me open up the gap over Mikko Hirvonen even further.”
“This double that we’ve racked up on our rivals’ favourite hunting ground is a fantastic result for Citroën,” summed up Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. “I’m very happy for our two drivers who have both scored precious points in the world championship. With six victories in seven rallies, we can be very proud of our first part of the season.”