SÃ©bastien holds on ! At the end of the second leg, during which they won all special stages, SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Xsara WRC maintained their grip on the 72nd edition of the Monaco -based - event. The first special stage of...
Sébastien holds on !
At the end of the second leg, during which they won all special stages, Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Xsara WRC maintained their grip on the 72nd edition of the Monaco -based - event.
The first special stage of the day, a version of the "Lantosque-Lucéram" stage, extended to include the Col de Braus, was mouth-watering. Unfortunately, it had to be neutralized after Nicolas Vouilloz went off the road, his car blocking the road. This meant that the status quo was maintained for the leaders, all of whom received a notional time set by Antony Warmbold, who had gone through before the incident.
The rest of the day included two identical loops, each consisting of the "Tourette-St Antonin" and the "Sigale-Col de Bleine" special stages. Facing south, "Tourette", which is generally dry, was " this time, mostly damp, " Sébastien explained. "And especially, the first sixteen kilometres, until the descent down to St Antonin, were covered in thick fog." In conditions like those, 'Seb' is always performing extremely well. The French driver proved this once more, by setting the fastest time, while the Xsara relegated Marcus Grönholm to 47 seconds. François Duval was third one minute behind.
However, the Citroën driver was not ready to take things easy. Considering that this was the right time to increase his lead, he maintained a fast pace during the "Col de Bleine" - a real 'monument', run in this direction for the first time - and set the best time, his fourth since the start of the rally. "
Unfortunately, at this point, the team was to lose Carlos Sainz : " At the start of the climb up to the Bleine Pass, the road was just damp, " the Madrid - based driver explained when he returned to Monaco. "There was snow on the sides of the road, and I suppose that the spectators had spread it over the road as they went by. I came across a brown patch, half snow, half mud, which was not in my pacenotes. I went straight, and hit the wall. The front right wheel was too badly damaged to allow me to continue..."
During the second loop, the "Tourette" stage was cancelled, and run as a road section. The only remaining stage was the second pass through "Le Bleine". Seb, who set the fastest time once again, was in control of the situation, increasing his lead over his nearest rivals. During the final service, the Citroën driver was still being cautious : " We drove well, without any mistakes. Thanks to the team's work, our tyre choices were correct. Tomorrow, we will undoubtedly encounter a number of potential traps. We have to keep our concentration, and try to do as well as we did today..."
"Naturally, I am delighted by Sébastien's performance, Guy Fréquelin concluded, with mixed feelings. "However, I am also quite disappointed by Carlos' retirement. It's a pity for him, and a pity for the team, but that's the game. We must now concentrate on getting through the last day without problems..."
Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of the Citroën-Total team in the World Rally Championship