Citroen in the land of the Greek Gods Following the team's superb win in Sardinia, Citroen Total has already turned its attention to the 2008 Acropolis Rally, round seven of this year's World Rally Championship. Four Citroen C4 WRCs will be in...
Citroen in the land of the Greek Gods
Following the team's superb win in Sardinia, Citroen Total has already turned its attention to the 2008 Acropolis Rally, round seven of this year's World Rally Championship. Four Citroen C4 WRCs will be in Greece to take on the country's demanding stages: two for Citroen Total crews Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti, plus those cars entered by Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk and Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior which are run by PH Sport with the support of technicians from Citroen Technologies.
The Acropolis Rally has long been one of the WRC's classic fixtures and its reputation was forged by the combination of its uniquely punishing stages and extreme conditions. Cars and crews alike are put to a gruelling test and this year's menu of 20 stages totalling 339km should once again ensure that the event lives up to its reputation. The route, which takes competitors to the north and west of Athens, is practically unchanged compared with 2007, although the organisers have revived the tradition of flagging away rallying's modern-day heroes from the foot of the Acropolis in Athens, under the gaze of Greek mythology's Gods.
"The Acropolis Rally hasn't been particularly kind to us over the years," says Citroen Sport's Technical Manager Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. "Not only is its terrain very demanding but it is also extremely humbling. Several cumulative parameters need to be taken into account, from the hard-packed surface to the high speeds, heat and dust, etc. It's a cocktail that really puts the suspension and tyres to the test. We prepared for this year's Acropolis in Greece near Livadia in April and, as is always the case, our C4s will benefit from our latest developments. We hope to be able to challenge for victory."
That is the wish of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, too, and the reigning World Champions have no intention of seeing their score of world class wins stagnate at 40. "It's true, I like round numbers, but I have nothing against adding to our current tally, especially since that would mean we are competitive and fighting for the title," confirms Seb. "In Sardinia, we succeeded in closing the gap with our rival, and the Acropolis Rally could be a good chance to reduce the deficit further still. It's not my favourite rally. These rough roads make the cars suffer, and that's not something I like. The fact that we now have to run without run-flat mousse in our tyres could also see the 2008 event turn out to be something of a lottery, although we saw in Sardinia that the Pirelli Scorpion Hard is capable of soaking up the knocks. Let's hope that will be the case again in Greece where we will be aiming for first place."
The question of tyres is also present in the minds of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti. "A top result will necessitate keeping clear of punctures, or at least being quick about it if we do need to stop and change a wheel," predicts Dani. "Running fifth on the road on Day 1 will play in our favour and I will try to make the most of that to build up a sufficient gap over our rivals. I don't want to suffer the same fate as I did in Sardinia where all the 'road sweeping' we had to do was a handicap. I felt very comfortable with the C4 on the Greek stages last year and I hope that will again be the case this time round. This is a rally that calls for patience, endurance and taking it gently with the car. I'm hoping for a good finish; for us and for Citroen."