Victory for the CitroÃ«n C4 WRC 'out of the box' This morning's superspecial on the harbour-front in Monaco put the final seal on an emphatic one-two result on the 2007 Monte Carlo Rally for the CitroÃ«n C4 WRC thanks to SÃ©bastien Loeb/Daniel...
Victory for the Citroën C4 WRC 'out of the box'
This morning's superspecial on the harbour-front in Monaco put the final seal on an emphatic one-two result on the 2007 Monte Carlo Rally for the Citroën C4 WRC thanks to Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Martí.
Prior to Thursday's start, the team still faced a long list of unknown factors and was understandably on its guard. The event marked the comeback of Sébastien Loeb after his mountain bike injury and there was a lingering doubt about his fitness. The Monte also marked the competition debut of the Citroën C4 WRC, while all the stages were new for both Citroën crews and the question remained about the possibility of encountering snow.
In the end, despite the event's return to the Vercors, Ardèche and Haute Loire regions for the first time in ten years, competitors were greeted by spring-like conditions which made tyre choices easier than usual. Run entirely in darkness, the extremely fast stages of the opening leg confirmed the fledgling Citroën C4 WRC's speed, with Sébastien posting two fastest times in wet conditions. Meanwhile, Dani tucked in behind his team-mate in 2nd place to give a further pointer to the new car's potential. And as both cars emerged at the top of Thursday evening's leaderboard, everyone at Citroën Sport was able to breathe a big sigh of relief.
The two days in the Ardèche provided further evidence of the Citroën C4 WRC's competitiveness as the Citroën Sport crews posted the best- and second-best times on every one of Friday's stages. After that, Sébastien and Dani enjoyed a handsome cushion over their chasers and were able to control from in front during Leg 3, basing their pace on the split times of their rivals.
Sunday's superspecial was the ultimate step in clinching the team's one-two finish that had seemed very much on the cards ever since SS1.
Today's result gives Citroën Sport its fourth Monte Carlo victory after those secured by Seb, Daniel and the Xsara in 2003, 2004 and 2005. "This one-two is the fruit of all the hard work put in by everyone at Citroën Sport," beamed Guy Fréquelin. "For the car to be in a position to win its maiden event needed everyone to focus on a single objective. For me, it's also the reward for having insisted on wanting to return to the World Rally Championship. We have been able to do such a fantastic job on asphalt thanks to the valuable input of BFGoodrich. Rarely has a car produced such a performance first time out. The C4 WRC posted nine consecutive fastest times (from SS1 to SS9), including eight one-twos, and few cars have ever finished their first event in 1st and 2nd places. It's a resounding start to the Citroën C4 WRC's career in the international arena."
Sébastien Loeb's win takes him level with Sandro Munari, Walter Röhrl and Tommi Mäkinen who are the only other drivers to have won the winter classic four times. "Today's result is a great reward for everyone at Citroën Sport," said the delighted Seb at the finish. "It's really fantastic because there were so many unknowns before the start, what with the new C4, my arm, our rivals and the new stages. I also knew it wouldn't be easy against Dani Sordo who had a great run. It's nice to have won the Monte for a fourth time and we couldn't have dreamed of a better start to the season. To have finished 1st and 2nd will be a huge morale-booster for the team. We've risen successfully to the challenge on asphalt, now fresh challenges await us on snow and dirt."
Dani Sordo put in a faultless run under pressure to secure Citroën's one-two finish in Monaco: "If someone had told me I would finish on the podium first time out with the Citroën C4 WRC, I probably wouldn't have believed them. Finishing 2nd on the Monte Carlo Rally is like a dream! I don't want to get carried away, though, and I will approach the next round Sweden as though it was the first outing of the year. Sébastien is a World Champion and I am not here to try to beat him, but to learn and progress."