Citroen's Loeb and Elena notch up 40th win in Sardinia The finish ceremony of the Rally d'Italia Sardegna this afternoon alongside Porto Cervo's Marina Vechia saw Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their C4 WRC claim top prize in the sixth round...
Citroen's Loeb and Elena notch up 40th win in Sardinia
The finish ceremony of the Rally d'Italia Sardegna this afternoon alongside Porto Cervo's Marina Vechia saw Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their C4 WRC claim top prize in the sixth round of the 2008 World Championship. The second Citroen Total car finished fifth in the hands of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti. Today's result takes the reigning champions' total to a record 40 world class wins and sees them move to within three points of the provisional championship lead, while the gap at the sharp end of the Manufacturers' standings remains unchanged.
Despite the return of sunshine and warmer weather, the last leg of the event was no holiday, although healthy pressure reigned in the Citroen Sport camp as the squad's two crews set off for the day's five stages totalling 78.57km in a bid to achieve their respective objectives. With their closest chasers just 29.4s behind, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena knew exactly what they needed to do: "We'll be first on the road again," detailed Seb, "so there's every chance we will see the same scenario as yesterday...". Indeed, the Frenchman dropped 10.3s on SS13, "which was slow, narrow, and very bumpy in places," he later reported after achieving the exploit of posting the fastest time on the following test: "We gave it everything we had on SS14. We put off our braking to the last possible moment and profited from the wider, faster road which probably had less surface gravel."
Seb went into the day's second loop with a cushion of 23 seconds, a handy yet relatively slender lead. The crew of the N1 C4 WRC succeeded in controlling superbly from in front, however, to line up for the short, final stage with an advantage of 12.9s, which they promptly converted into victory over the last, 2.62km test.
"Our 40th WRC win was certainly hard work," beamed Seb at the finish. "The weekend was very frustrating at times, especially because of all the 'road sweeping' that had to be done, but we managed to hold on to a big enough lead to finish on top. There was little more we could have done: we didn't make any mistakes and our C4 performed absolutely perfectly. Not to have won would have been a huge disappointment, so I'm very happy, not only for us but also for the team and for our situation in the two championships. The weekend showed once again that our car is competitive over this sort of terrain, and that's encouraging for the coming rounds."
Dani Sordo and Marc Marti finish fifth after a good rally and a thrilling fight with Gigi Galli. "I didn't succeed in really upping my pace," commented Dani. "We tried several solutions, but I failed to find a set-up that allowed me to make the most of our C4's potential. I'm a bit disappointed, but I'm still pleased with our performance on the first day and with the points we have scored for Citroen. There is still a long way to go this season, and there will be other opportunities to finish on the podium..."
"Given the challenging context in which it was obtained, I am very happy with this result which is a fitting reward for the good work put in by everyone at Citroen Sport," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "Sebastien and Daniel fully deserved to win because the parameters were very complex. We challenged for victory from start to finish and I believe that says a great deal about our domination. Being in the lead all the time meant that we spent the weekend sweeping a cleaner line for our competitors, but Sebastien and Daniel managed to overcome that handicap and went on to notch up their 40th world class win with Citroen. They also scored maximum championship points which is good for their title chances. Dani and Marc put in a strong run, too, although their mission was complicated by the 'road sweeping' they had to do on Day 2. The points we have scored in Sardinia mean that the gap at the top of the Manufacturers' championship has stabilised, while Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk (8th) and Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior (13th) also put in good runs with their privately-entered C4 WRCs tended by PH Sport with the support of Citroen Technologies technicians."