Event: Rally Mexico
Loeb scores the DS3 WRC’s maiden victory
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have been unbeaten in Mexico since 2006, today racked up their fifth consecutive victory in this event. But above all, they scored the Citroën DS3 WRC’s maiden win, which showed its potential on gravel throughout the three days of the rally. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went off in the first stage today and had to retire. This win has put Loeb / Elena in second place in the Drivers’ World Championship.
After a couple of long days, the final leg of Rally Mexico was little more than a sprint with only 62 timed kilometers. The loop consisted of three stages without a service break: Guanajuatito (29 km), Comanjilla (24 km) and the Guanajuato Power Stage (8 km), that rewarded the first three with bonus points.
Only 10.5s separated Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb when they left the Poliforum de León service park. Their aim was to give the Citroën DS3 WRC a double. But the race was turned on its head in Guanajuato. Ogier went off halfway through the stage and had to retire with a broken left-hand front upright: “I had to push to hold on to my first place as my position of being first out forced me to sweep the roads yet again,” explained the Citroën Total World Rally Team driver. “In a corner, the car understeered and I went a bit wide. I couldn’t avoid a stone on the verge and the left-hand front upright broke. I gambled and I lost, but above all I’m feeling gutted for the whole team. We’d done a great job since the start of the weekend and I didn’t manage to make it pay off by scoring precious points for Citroën.”
When Loeb saw his team-mate stopped in the stage he lifted off a little until the finish: “Seeing Sébastien and Julian on the side of the road didn’t give me much pleasure. We could have fought till the very end and it’s a pity it finished like that. We went back into the lead of the rally with more than 1m 30s in hand over Mikko. We just nursed it home.”
After losing a few seconds in Comanjilla, Loeb arrived at the start of the Power Stage with the firm intention of adding a few more points to his tally. By snatching the second-quickest time from Petter Solberg the seventime world champion bagged an additional two points rounding off a very exciting weekend: “We’ve just had a very tricky rally. I had a great scrap with Sébastien Ogier, a few teething troubles with the car, and my victory only came at the end of the race. It’s a good result where points are concerned, as we’re in second place in the world championship. The season’s really begun for us here.”
“It’s another exceptional result for Citroën,” smiled Olivier Quesnel. “It was a really great rally. We lost Sébastien Ogier along the way; it’s unfortunate but that’s how it goes. In the first event on gravel we showed the speed and reliability of the DS3 WRC, even if we had a few glitches. I’m feeling confident for the rest of the season as I’m convinced that we’ve got the best car and the best crews. We’ve now got to use our brains to fight for the two world titles.”
Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson drove a cautious third leg and brought their DS3 WRC home in fourth place as well as scoring a bonus point in the Power Stage.