Re-united once again in Greece, Citroen's dream team produced another sensational result this weekend. Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC were in unbeatable form on their way to claiming their record-equalling sixth win of the season...
Re-united once again in Greece, Citroen's dream team produced another sensational result this weekend. Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC were in unbeatable form on their way to claiming their record-equalling sixth win of the season and their fifth in a row, also a record-equalling feat. Their latest exploit will doubtlessly go down in rallying history. The last Frenchman to win the Acropolis Rally was Didier Auriol in 1992. The last French car to finish on top here was the 205 in 1986, while you have to go back to Jean-Luc Therier's success with Alpine in 1973 to find the last win for a Frenchman in Greece driving a French car...
Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti also played a capital role in the team's successful weekend by finishing in 3rd position. Their result enables Citroen to regain the lead in the Manufacturers' championship and the Spaniard, a living rally legend, was given a long ovation when he returned to the Lamia service park at the end of the rally to mark his 97th podium finish from 196 world class rallying starts, another truly historic performance! Symbolically, it was in Greece fifteen years ago that he took the first of his 26 WRC victories.
Sebastien Loeb laid the foundations for this weekend's success by resisting well on Friday before pulling clear of the pack on Saturday and controlling intelligently from in front during Sunday's final leg: "I lifted over the rocky ruts of 'Dikastro' and, over the last two stages, which were very badly cut up in places, I really took it easy. I wasn't even flat out along some straights over the pebbles towards the end of 'Perivoli'! Five wins in a row? It hasn't really sunk in yet," added the defending World Champion. "All I know for the moment is that thanks to the team's efforts to give us perfect cars and also thanks to Michelin, this rally has been extremely positive in view of both title chases... We know we're not invincible and this winning run will come to an end one day but, if we want to extend it, we cannot afford to relax and next week we will be back out testing..."
Carlos Sainz had no reason to regret succumbing to the friendly pressure applied by Guy Frequelin to compete in Greece. "A month and a half ago, I was following Citroen's results in the press and phoning up every now and again for a friendly chat. I didn't have the slightest idea I would soon find myself back competing with the Xsara WRC. It's been a fantastic weekend! I am proud to have succeeded in meeting the objective Guy set me, and proud to have scored valuable points in both events. The team is back on top of the championship and I hope it will stay there. They deserve it. As for me, I have finished my career in world class rallying on the podium of the event that gave me my first WRC win. What more could a sportsman ask for?"
Automobiles Citroen's General Manager Claude Satinet was naturally delighted with the successful outcome of what he calls the "Carlos operation. It succeeded beyond our hopes because Carlos came back as competitive and meticulous as ever, with the same will to win. In short, the same professionalism and the same great personality! I am very, very happy that his effort has been rewarded with yet another podium finish..."
Guy Frequelin was beaming as he personally congratulated all the members of his team one by one: "Our current sequence of wins and our return to the top of the Manufacturers' points table are down to the talent of our crews, Seb and Daniel and Carlos and Marc, but also to the untiring work of Citroen Sport and its partners, notably Michelin. I am also very happy with the top-ten finish of Xavier Pons and the times set by Manfred Stohl with their privately-entered, Kronos-run Xsaras. They illustrate the speed and reliability of the products Citroen gives its customers."