CitroÃ«n on the rising curve The Xsaras of SÃ©bastien Loeb, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz returned to Limassoll tonight lying respectively in fifth, sixth and ninth position overall. The Cyprus Rally's first leg was a total discovery for the ...
Citroën on the rising curve
The Xsaras of Sébastien Loeb, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz returned to Limassoll tonight lying respectively in fifth, sixth and ninth position overall. The Cyprus Rally's first leg was a total discovery for the Citroën team as preliminary testing is forbidden outside Europe. The three crews started at a cautious pace but thanks to judicious changes made on the cars' set-up, they performed well in the second half of the day.
Only four stages were to be run today, but driving 100 km at 60 km/h average with around 60°C inside the cars is simply a challenge. This incredibly low speed for the World Rally Cars explains on its own the merciless aspect of the two stages of "Platres - Kato Amiantos" and "Lagoudera - Spilia" both located in the Mount Olympus area.
After the first loop, the times did not inspire much optimism in the "Chevrons" camp."I act again as a sweeper for those following me", Carlos explained."And given this, I am wondering if I chose the right tyres. I am not entirely satisfied with the balance of the car. And also I wasn't really in the right pace".
Sébastien Loeb admitted not driving with a good rhythm either."I didn't find the correct speed. I need to work on the suspension. I flew quite high one or two times, losing there some of my confidence. I wanted to drive cleanly but it was too slippery and therefore not efficient."
Colin McRae was trying to find the compromise between understeering and oversteering so as not to go out of the two tracks made by the previous competitors. The Scot said "I need to improve the car's settings. It's also important not to make any mistake here. The gap with the front-runners isn't a real problem as this is a very peculiar event where a lot can happen."
Engineers worked very hard during the 2 hours regroup before the midday service to list the changes to be made. They hardened the suspension, they optimised the differentials and adapted the general feel of the car to these modifications.
In the second loop, the terrain was cleaner but rougher with rocks and ruts in both stages. The three Xsaras performed well confirming the changes made earlier. Sébastien Loeb even set a second fastest time in the last speed test, despite a spin, which cost him about ten seconds. "It's a pity, I could have done the best time !"
"Once again, we are paying the price for our discovery of a new even"t, analysed team boss Guy Fréquelin "The team has reacted very quickly and this is to our credit. The only problem is that tomorrow's stages might not be similar to today's."
Telefónica Movistar, Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of Team Citroën Total in the World Rally Championship