CitroÃ«n and Loeb take silver on the Acropolis The punishing 2007 Acropolis Rally ended in Athens this afternoon with SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their CitroÃ«n C4 WRC finishing on the second step of the podium. Dani Sordo and ...
Citroën and Loeb take silver on the Acropolis
The punishing 2007 Acropolis Rally ended in Athens this afternoon with Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroën C4 WRC finishing on the second step of the podium. Dani Sordo and Marc Martí, who re-started this morning under the SupeRally ruling, finished tenth in the classification of crews eligible to score Manufacturers' points.
The final leg of the 54th Acropolis Rally featured 78.94km of competitive action and there was still every chance that the eighth round of the championship could spring a few surprises since the programme featured visits to such fast and occasionally rough tests as 'Avlonas' (SS18/21, 20km) and 'Assopia' (SS19/22, 17.87 km).
"Who fancies doing a bit of road-sweeping with us," smiled Citroën Sport's Dani Sordo as he pulled out of the service park this morning before sunrise? Despite his gearbox troubles of the previous day, he was able to re-start today under the SupeRally ruling but faced the prospect of running first on the road and consequently cutting a clear line through the stages' loose top- coating. "It wasn't much fun and I didn't really have anything to gain so I didn't take any risks. We basically profited from the day to evaluate different set-ups. I was able to see how the C4 reacted to the changes and that could prove useful during the second half of the season."
The atmosphere was somewhat tenser in the Citroën of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena for whom there was no question of doing test work. "It was impossible to make up a gap of 43.3 seconds in a straight fight but I pushed hard in order to defend my position," explained Seb. "Driving quickly was also the best way to stay concentrated. I am obviously not fully satisfied with the points we scored this weekend because the gap with Marcus is getting bigger. That said, it was better to make sure of picking up eight points rather than leaving Greece empty-handed. We've had easier rallies; I didn't drive all that well on SS2 and it took us some time to find the ideal set- up. After that, even though the BFGoodrich run-flat system did its job, I was forced to lift both times through the long stage to be sure of making it to the finish."
"This has been a difficult rally on a number of accounts," observed Guy Fréquelin. "Once again, true to the Acropolis Rally's legend, we had to cope with some extremely rough stages and the price for that was sometimes high. On top of that, even though the Citroën C4 WRC proved competitive this weekend, it took Sébastien some time to find the ideal set-up for his car, while Dani's run was halted by a gearbox problem."
It wasn't all negative in the Citroën camp, however, as the team boss points out: "The times set by Dani and Marc are very encouraging. That's three rallies in a row now where Dani has put in a strong run. Here in Greece, in addition to being quick, he was also consistent and succeeded in mixing it on a regular basis with far more experienced drivers than himself on the loose. His fine performance was unfortunately poorly rewarded but he seems to have progressed in terms of both his driving and the way he interacts with Citroën Sport's technical staff. He is going in the direction I want him to and that's a good sign for the remainder of the season."
Guy Fréquelin was also appreciative of the second place scored by Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. "They never gave up in their attempt to come away with the best possible result. Along with their engineers, they succeeded in fine-tuning the set-up of their car and that work has extended our understanding of the C4. This event marks the end of the first half of the season and our situation in the both championships isn't brilliant. We still have eight rallies to reverse the trend though, so it's now down to us to keep on working in order to get the results we need to make that happen."