Centred around the coastal town of Raglan, the third leg of Rally New Zealand took the competitors 150 km south of Auckland. This decision allowed three classic stages to be included, most notably the famous "Whaanga Coast" special stage, along...
Centred around the coastal town of Raglan, the third leg of Rally New Zealand took the competitors 150 km south of Auckland. This decision allowed three classic stages to be included, most notably the famous "Whaanga Coast" special stage, along the Tasman sea, a real postcard setting for the Kiwi rally.
During this morning's service, Carlos Sainz adopted the settings used by S bastien Loeb yesterday. The two Xsaras were thus in identical configuration, tyre choice included, when they set off for the first of the two loops. "Seb" finished in superb style, putting both his name and that of Citroen on the list of "Whaanga Coast" winners. After his win yesterday in the "Waipu Gorge", this second fastest time, combined with some changes in the ranks, allowed the young French driver to climb up to fourth place overall. Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti remained firmly in sixth position, meaning that Citroen was able to bring eight precious points back from their excursion to the Antipodes.
"Once again, I have finished just off the podium, Sebastian said with a smile. "But the gap between me and the winner was four times bigger last year, and this time I also managed to win two stages. After paying the price on the first day, due to having to open the route, I think I drove well. It is true that we took some time to find the right set-up, but it should be remembered that with the format of the event, we can only work on the car twice per day. We have gained some more experience on this really special terrain, and we have won some points. Overall, I think we can be quite satisfied."
Pragmatic as always, Carlos Sainz emphasised the points won by Citroen, before continuing : " We have to understand why we are less competitive in low-grip conditions, and continue to work to solve this problem. We always hope for more, but globally, I think we successfully negotiated a difficult round. Now we will have a change of pace, with three slower rallies, which will be rougher and hotter. I hope to do as well as I did last year."
As for Guy Frequelin, "The first reason to be satisfied is that we have both cars at the finish, which meant we have kept in touch with our rivals in both championship classifications. Secondly, we made noticeable progress throughout the event. The way the rally went showed, once more, the importance of having the right set-up from the very start, even more so considering the shakedown has now been reduced to two hours, allowing little time to work. We lost time at the start of the event, and then we were always trying to catch up. To know if we have the right cards in our hand at the right moment will be very useful for the future which looks as if it will continue to be extremely close!"