Citroen: the 2008 Manufacturers' World Rally Champions*
The final round of the 2008 World Rally Championship in Wales ended with Citroen claiming the 2008 Manufacturers' world title*. This year's crown comes after those previously notched up by the French firm in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and adds a further line to the make's already illustrious record in motor sport. Today's success comes shortly after the Driver's title which was secured earlier in the season by Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. By finishing this weekend's Wales Rally GB in first and third places, the performances of Seb/Daniel and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti were amply sufficient to hand Citroen the championship double.
Rheola Forest's twisty tracks (SS16/18) and those that wind through Margam Park (SS17/19) were completely frozen following last night's subzero temperatures in the Swansea region, and the 89.10km of competitive action that figured on Sunday's programme provided the backdrop for what turned out to be a memorable scrap for outright victory. In the end, the clash saw Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena snatch outright victory on the final day to settle the championship chase in favour of Citroen!
With an overnight deficit of just 7.3 seconds to make up on the leaders, Seb and Daniel had no intention of giving up their bid to claim their first ever victory in Wales. And with the third-placed Citroen C4 WRC of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti providing rearguard action in the team's quest for Manufacturers' points, the five-time World Champions* were free to attack as they saw fit. The third leg's opening stage saw them shave the gap down to 2.2s before reducing it by a further eight tenths on the following test, and they returned to the mid- morning service break a mere 1.4s behind. The No.1 C4 WRC ended up taking the lead for good on the year's very last stage which enabled Sebastien to become the first Frenchman to win Britain's round of the WRC. And with a score of 11 wins to their name this year, Seb and Daniel have also set a new record for the highest number of world class wins in a single season.
"Winning both World Championship titles means we have met the objective we set ourselves at the beginning of the year. It also shows what the Citroen brand is capable of achieving," declared Gilles Michel, the Executive Vice-President of Automobiles Citroen. "I would like to congratulate our two crews on the mature way they approached this year's challenge and on their competitiveness. I would also like to extend my praise to everyone at Citroen Sport for their motivation and professionalism. Once again, they have done a truly remarkable job. Last but not least, the C4 WRC showed its potential and effectiveness each time out this year and that, I believe, speaks volumes for the brand's high level of creativity and automotive technology."
Team boss Olivier Quesnel made no attempt to conceal his joy during the podium ceremony in Cardiff. "After the happy experience of seeing Seb and Daniel win the Drivers title in Japan, it was fantastic to share the same thrill today now that Citroen has made sure of the Manufacturers' crown," he enthused, visibly moved. "Securing a second title in this weekend's difficult conditions gives the occasion a very special flavour, too. This rally really sums up the season that has just come to an end: it was fiercely fought and very close. Our crews were both quick and reliable, however, and today's double podium has given us another chance to fly the brand's flag high and proud. At the beginning of the year, our objective was the championship double; we have now succeeded, and that is so satisfying. We have no intention of resting on our laurels, though. The 2009 season is fast approaching and, after savouring the present moment, everyone at Citroen Sport will soon be back at work preparing the defence of these two titles..."
"After making sure of our fifth title in Japan, Daniel and I are really happy to have enabled Citroen to take the Manufacturers world crown again, too," beamed Sebastien Loeb. "There couldn't be a better reward for this team and the fantastic season it has put in. The added bonus of winning this weekend's highly complex event is the icing on the cake. The regulations which ban gravel note crews and which dictate a single type of tyre made this rally an extremely perilous exercise. To have succeeded in steering clear of all the potential pitfalls to finally finish ahead of our rivals is tremendously satisfying."
"Before the start, we were given a precise mission and I am delighted to say that we fulfilled it to the letter, adding a little style, too, I think," smiled Dani Sordo. "All year long, we have done our best to finish regularly in the points for Citroen. Seeing the team win the Manufacturers' crown* is the best imaginable reward for all those whose work and efforts helped make that possible."