With Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena finishing 2nd and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti 4th, the Xsara WRCs put in a superb overall performance in Cyprus where the conditions were as challenging as ever. The result sees Sebastien hold on to 2nd place in the ...
With Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena finishing 2nd and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti 4th, the Xsara WRCs put in a superb overall performance in Cyprus where the conditions were as challenging as ever. The result sees Sebastien hold on to 2nd place in the Drivers' championship, while Carlos moves up one place to 5th. In the Manufacturers' standings, Citroen has made up most of the deficit that separated it from the leading team prior to Cyprus; a valuable harvest all in all considering that the two next rounds, Greece and Turkey, also promise to be hot and rough.
Guy Frequelin has every reason to be pleased. To begin with, the result matches his pre-event objective to the letter, namely two cars inside the top five and one on the podium. Meanwhile, the Xsara WRC not only maintained its excellent reliability record but also proved to be up with the best of its rivals in performance terms too. Moreover, Sebastien Loeb was the best stage performer of the weekend with a score of six fastest times, equal with Petter Solberg. "The set-up of the cars could have perhaps been better on Day 1," notes Guy Frequelin, "but the step forward we have achieved as far as performance goes is considerable. This is a strong close formation result, the best we could have hoped for in normal circumstances."
Coming second can sometimes lead to regrets, but that is absolutely not the case for Sebastien Loeb: "Above all, I wanted a top result here in order to stay in the leading pack in the Drivers' championship. Obviously, if a chance to win had come my way, I would have snapped it up. And I certainly kept my eyes open but Marcus Gronholm was very quck and gave absolutely nothing away. Compared with last year, the gap between us and the winner has been divided by five and we finished one place higher, even though there were practically no retirements. That speaks volumes for the fantastic work the team has done on the car
Carlos Sainz would also like to have capitalised on Xsara's performance progress: "It wasn't an easy rally for me. Not the sort of weekend after which you can say to yourself that everything was 100%. In fact, I didn't really have what could be considered a perfect run at any of the loops of stages. There were moments when my shockabsorbers went off and others when I had to use tyres that weren't the most competitive, simply because my quota didn't inlcude enough GW patterns which are the most resistant to wear. To have finished 4th is therefore not so bad, and a good way to prepare for Greece
The next round of the championship, the Acropolis Rally, is already very much on people's minds, including that of Citroen General Manager Claude Satinet. "That was a good match! We kick off again in three weeks time," he said when congratiulating Guy Frequelin and the team!