WRC

Rally Japan: Kronos Racing final summary

Loeb : a victory and a record ! At the time when the sun is just rising in Western Europe, the land of the rising sun is applauding Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. Last year, the Franco-Monegasque pairing clinched a second consecutive ...

Loeb : a victory and a record !

At the time when the sun is just rising in Western Europe, the land of the rising sun is applauding Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. Last year, the Franco-Monegasque pairing clinched a second consecutive world title in Japan. This year, after 27 stages, Seb and Daniel took their 27th career victory and claimed one of the few remaining records that had not yet been in their possession : the record for the total number of career wins, which they had held jointly with Spanish legend Carlos Sainz since the Rallye Deutschland. Now, this historic landmark is theirs alone.

This 27th victory was claimed after a sumptuous and nail-biting battle that lasted throughout the entire three days of the rally. Its intensity, duration and uncertainty will stick in the mind for many years to come. After their closely-fought confrontation in Germany, Seb and Marcus Grönholm carried on as if nothing had happened. " I pushed at 100%, and sometimes even more when it was necessary, " said Seb. To try so hard on the fast, narrow and damp Japanese roads clearly carried its risks. Seb though steered clear of trouble even during the thrilling final leg where he had to fend off a tooth-and-nail assault from Grönholm, that saw the Frenchman win by just 5.6 seconds at the finish !

At the end, after a final lap of honour around the spectator superspecial, Seb was thinking more of the battle than the record. He said: " How was that for close ? At the start of the final leg, I thought that the eight points for second place would have been a good result for the championship. Then we took the decision just to go for it, to try everything. The fight was too good just to walk away and settle for second. Mentally, that was an important turning point. But once we had decided on that course of action, Daniel and I were only thinking about one thing. We had no split times so it was just a question of going flat-out and driving as quickly as possible on order to try and win. On the last stage, we took a few risks. The smell of victory, and the potential joy of a team that once again performed faultlessly, made it all worth it... "

Dani Sordo a lifelong fan of Seb was of course delighted. The young Spaniard could have naturally hoped for an easier rally than the treacherous Japan in which to get back onto the horse after his bad luck in Finland. Nonetheless, he did not put a foot wrong to underline his humility and patience. He said : "The Rally Japan is fun but very tricky. Given my inexperience, I just focussed on scoring the maximum possible number of manufacturer points for Kronos. That was my job, and I did it to the best of my abilities... " Dani was delayed by Luis Perez Companc's accident on the last stage, costing him his sixth place. The Kronos team have asked the event organisers to look into the incident, and award Dani a notional time to reflect his true pace. This request has been rejected.

In the manufacturers' championship, Seb's victory and Dani's solid performance has allowed the Kronos Citroen team to match the points haul of its closest rival and maintain the series lead by 15 points. Team principal Marc van Dalen was overjoyed. "I don't know which emotion to put first, " he said. " My admiration for our extraordinary World Champions Seb and Daniel, my deep joy, or my pride in our team that has helped them to this historic 27th win. Not to mention my gratitude for the faith that Citroen Sport showed in us, and my thanks to the sponsors who have supported us throughout this fantastic adventure. What has happened here today just gives us a burning desire to succeed in the rounds still to come, and even more confidence... "

-credit: kronos racing

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Daniel Elena
Teams Citroën World Rally Team