Citroën, World Champion 2003 !*
Success ! Thanks to the superb second place secured by Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and the solid fourth position of Colin McRae/Derek Ringer, Citroën has claimed the overall title in its first full season in the World Championship. The Xsara WRC is the World Championship-winning car, and, as Claude Satinet, Chairman of Automobiles Citroën, said, this title should be savoured in full, because : "You only ever get one first time! "
To follow the last special stage of the rally, Margam Park, which was shown live on TV, the team from Versailles-Satory gathered under the awning of the Citroën motor home. They trembled as they followed Colin McRae's puncture and lightening wheel change, bursting into applause when the Scotsman got going again. They were thrilled watching the on-board camera images from Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena's Xsara. And, finally, they exploded with joy when the Xsara came to a halt at the finish line, having completed the stage : "We had a trouble-free third leg." "Seb" explained. "Due to the temperature and the rain, we had the softest tyres, which was the right choice. Considering the rather particular circumstances of this race, I am pleased that I put in a spotless performance. I would like to congratulate Petter. As I said, even if I had been attacking full out, I am not sure that I would have been able to overtake him. However, we have confirmed here what we had already shown in Australia : we can now fight for overall victory on every surface, demonstrating the huge amount of excellent work undertaken by the team."
The manufacturer with the Double Chevron emblem was therefore able to bring to a successful end the nine-month marathon, which started with a magnificent one-two-three in the Monte-Carlo Rally. A campaign which included four wins, seven second places and two third places, a tally which exceeded the targets set at the start of the season, making Guy Fréquelin " happy and proud of the way that the team has been able to react during the difficult times, to take care of the priorities, to surpass itself! I am disappointed for 'Seb', who deserved the crown this year, but less than I was on Friday. Just like Sébastien, I realised that it would have been very difficult to catch Petter Solberg."
"As this championship draws to a close," the Citroën Sport boss concluded, "I would like to emphasise just how important the role of Carlos and Colin has been in claiming this Manufacturers' title. We knew that they would bring experience to the team, and we have not been disappointed. We have been able to get to know two accomplished sportsmen, two real professionals, great champions and men with whom we have spent a very pleasant year.
This title, that we will celebrate and savour, makes us, from now on, a team to be reckoned with. We will start preparations immediately in order to take on this new status ! "
Telefónica Movistar, Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are partners of the Citroën-Total team in the World Rally Championship.