WRC

Monte Carlo: Citroen leg one summary

Loeb leads after late attack ! Tonight Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC resolutely took the lead of the 72nd edition of the Monte Carlo rally, after they set the fastest time in todays's final stage of 'Rosans - Lepine'. Carlos...

Loeb leads after late attack !

Tonight Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Xsara WRC resolutely took the lead of the 72nd edition of the Monte Carlo rally, after they set the fastest time in todays's final stage of 'Rosans - Lepine'. Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti currently lie in fourth.

Shortly before seven o'clock this morning, when the choice had to be made, the debate was between the "G51" studded full-snow-tyre, and the wider "D10" siped - pattern with two rows of studs.

The "G51" was in question today quite simply because, as well as recent snowfalls, a fresh layer of snow had fallen during the night. After the team had weighed up the pros and the cons, both Xsara cars were fitted with the "G51". Just one minute before leaving service , Sébastien Loeb decided to swap his tyres for the "D10".

An inspired decision as the first pass through stage 1 was cancelled, there was no question about it : the "D10" was the ideal choice.

Carlos Sainz, who had kept the "G51" tyres, lost 38 seconds. " This is a typical Monte Carlo scenario," the Madrid-based driver mused. "Was my choice for the first loop the correct one ? We will never know because the cancellation of SS1 turned it into the wrong choice !"

By the time they set off for the second loop, identical to the first, the problem of the choice was no longer there. The two Xsara cars were on the pace, as proved by their one-two in SS4. Sébastien, third after the morning, overtook Markko Märtin to take second place. Carlos, in fifth, was gradually closing up the gap between him and the leader, Marcus Grönholm.

For the day's final sequence, consisting of the "Laborel-L'Aubergerie" and "Rosans-L'Epine" stages, the debate started all over again. Should they choose the "TA" mixed tyre, or trust the "D10" ? The two Xsara cars opted for the latter, without studs. It proved to be the best choice for the whole loop, and "Seb" took the lead. The young French driver, naturally extremely satisfied with his performance, gave a summary of his day: "Considering the conditions at the start of the leg, I decided to be very careful. It was very tricky, and I wanted to avoid making any mistakes. After that, the roads changed, and gradually, we 'got back in the game', gaining confidence and increasing the pace. In the last special stage, I was totally at ease with my Xsara, and I was able to really push..." Moving up to fourth position, Carlos Sainz has not given up : " The car is perfect, and when I think of last year, I can measure just how much I am now in phase with it. We can do good things in this rally..."

As careful as usual concerning the rest of the event, Guy Fréquelin was nevertheless smiling. " We negotiated this leg well. It looked like being the most complicated, but that of tomorrow could be just as bad, even worse. We will see. In the meantime, I think we did some very good work today..."

Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of the Citroën-Total team in the World Rally Championship.

-citroen-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Carlos Sainz , Marcus Gronholm , Sébastien Loeb , Guy Frequelin , Daniel Elena , Marc Marti
Teams Citroën World Rally Team