Three in a row for Loeb and CitroÃ«n! SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their trusty CitroÃ«n collected their third consecutive win today in Cyprus, their fourth of the 2005 season. This weekend's success -- the crew's fourteenth at WRC level --...
Three in a row for Loeb and Citroën!
Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their trusty Citroën collected their third consecutive win today in Cyprus, their fourth of the 2005 season. This weekend's success -- the crew's fourteenth at WRC level -- takes the defending champions 11 points clear at the top of the provisional Drivers' World Championship standings.
The officially nominated Citroën Sport crew's win was compounded by the superb 2nd place of the privately-entered, Team Kronos Racing-run Xsara of Manfred Stohl and his co-driver Ilka Minor. It is the best result of the young Austrian's career and probably the best performance ever by an Austrian driver at world level.
It is said that contented people have no tales to tell, and that effectively applies to the way Leg 3 unfolded for Seb and Manfred. Their cars were perfectly reliable and their drivers adapted their pace admirably to the varying state of the stages as well as to the situation at the top of the leaderboard which saw considerable gaps develop between the drivers.
Sébastien was by far the best stage performer with a score of 12 fastest times to his name but, as he observed after the drama that befell many of the front-runners early on, he emerged from this rout as his own main rival! "I've got stay as concentrated as possible to keep clear of the innumerable difficulties this minefield is throwing at us." Later, amidst joyous scenes at the final service halt, the World Champion admitted, "This is the moment we've been waiting for for the past two days. Ever since the real battle ended in fact. It's a bit of a strange win and I feel a certain relief that it's over. The car was perfect and didn't give us any problems, and we didn't make any mistakes. This win may not have been all that exciting but, like all the others, it's worth ten valuable points!"
There was just as much cheering going on nearby under the Kronos Racing awning to celebrate the outstanding performance of its Austrian crew who secured the best finish for a privateer at world level in years. Ilka Minor's joy was a pleasure to behold: "It's a fantastic feeling. To finish 2nd in such a difficult rally... It's just incredible!" Manfred Stohl admitted that his feat was only just sinking in: "I'm not one to show my feelings, but I'm thrilled to bits inside! I am pleased that I succeeded in holding off Henning Solberg and then Markko Märtin. I also want to underline the excellent work put in by the Kronos team. This is a great result for all those who believed in me at the beginning of my career and who enabled me to make a living out of my passion..."
Guy Fréquelin was obviously very pleased too, but didn't conceal that his pleasure was dampened by yesterday's retirement of François Duval and Stéphane Prévot and by its consequences: "Stéphane has told me that he doesn't want to co-drive for François any more. I've got until 6 p.m. tomorrow to find a solution for the crew of our second car and register it with the FIA. That said, I must congratulate the team. It has come through the first -- and perhaps toughest! -- of the three rough rallies of the championship very well. The result confirms what we had hoped, that the set-up of the car and our new Michelin tyres would be a match for these conditions. As usual, Sébastien was in imperial form and that has been justly rewarded in the Drivers' standings. I can't hide though that I am very disappointed that what looked to be a promising weekend in terms of the Manufacturers' championship didn't come off. I would finally like to praise Manfred Stohl, Ilka Minor and everyone at Kronos Racing. Citroën Sport couldn't wish for better ambassadors for our privately run cars..."