The Xsaras in the lead ! This evening, SÃ©bastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti are lying in the top two places in the Rallye Deutschland, an event which marks the return of the world competition to asphalt surfaces. The CitroÃ«n...
The Xsaras in the lead !
This evening, Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti are lying in the top two places in the Rallye Deutschland, an event which marks the return of the world competition to asphalt surfaces. The Citroën team, which was determined to do honour to this event, was delighted this evening. Throughout the first leg, the Xsara validated the work which has been done, and confirmed its position as 'the car to beat' on this surface...
Citroën and its cars did not only get the result they wanted, they did it in style. Over the eight special stages completed today, they won six, claiming a one-two on four occasions. Competitive, the Xsaras proved moreover to be extremely reliable, and, during the two visits to the service area, only the standard maintenance work and the planned checks took place.
The team was therefore able to concentrate fully on the tyre choice, an essential parameter during a day that was dominated by extremely capricious weather conditions. For the first loop of four special stages, which took place in the most difficult conditions, both drivers opted for 'soft' rubber. A wise choice, as they are as competitive as the medium rubber, with added safety should it begin to rain. With the weather improving in the afternoon, the two Xsaras logically moved over to medium tyres, cut for safety. "A good choice," once again : Sébastien Loeb was able to set four consecutive fastest times, with Carlos right behind him on three occasions.
"It would be difficult to have a better day," Sébastien admitted, above the roar of the fan-club which greeted him at the service area. "However, that does not mean that it was easy. A damp road, then dry at the start, a road made dirty by the first pass through when we went through for the second time. About this matter, I must admit that the indications from the organisation's official gravel crews are useful. However, we are still constantly alert, which will be especially necessary tomorrow in Baumholder..."
If Sébastien was pleased to confirm, once again, his performance over 'his' terrain, Carlos, who has seen him win there twice, was no less happy. "I have never had such a good feeling for this rally," the Spanish driver said delightedly. "Total confidence in the car, good feeling for the road and the atmospheric conditions. I hope to be in the same conditions for Baumholder. All of that will be necessary in order to get to the end of that tyre-choice puzzle without making any mistakes..."
Just as pleased as his drivers, Guy Fréquelin was, as usual, careful not to be over-enthusiastic : "In rally-raids, even when things looked really good for us, I kept on repeating that 'it is a long way to Dakar'. We are in a similar situation. I would obviously not exchange our position this evening with that of our rivals, but I must also think that tomorrow includes two sets of eighty kilometres of special stages without service areas, and that a sequence of nearly one hundred timed sectors, broken only by a mini-service area, is on the programme for Sunday. We have to remain as concentrated as possible in order to get through these three sections without problems."
Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of the Citroën-Total team in the FIA World Rally Championship.