It's done! By scoring their seventh win of the season today in Argentina, Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and Citroen have written a fresh page of rallying history and established two new records: the number of wins in a season and the number of ...
It's done! By scoring their seventh win of the season today in Argentina, Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and Citroen have written a fresh page of rallying history and established two new records: the number of wins in a season and the number of consecutive wins, which they have taken from five to six.
In the wake of their team-mates, Francois Duval and Sven Smeets finished 7th overall to earn two valuable, extra Manufacturers' points for the team. The performances of Manfred Stohl/Ilka Minor and Xavi Pons/Carlos del Barrio -- who finished as the best placed privateers with their Team Kronos Racing Xsaras, both inside the top-ten -- were further reasons for a big fiesta in the Citroen camp tonight!
Guy Frequelin and Sebastien Loeb were very reserved on Saturday evening. With such classics as Giulio Cesare and El Condor to come on the final day, Seb's overnight cushion of 30 seconds by no means guaranteed success and the following morning's weather report provided further reason to be cautious: the temperature at 2,200 metres -- the highest altitude visited by the rally -- was well below zero, while snow lined these two legendary, rocky stages. The frozen conditions prompted Seb to opt for the softest compound '8 minus' version of the BTO, while Francois chose the slightly harder '8' compound.
The classic El Condor test was always going to be a highlight of the 2005 Rally Argentina and, if he proved able to stem Marcus Gronholm's bid on this one, it would put Seb all but clear of a last-minute charge from the Finn. And Seb played the situation perfectly by posting his ninth fastest time of the weekend. After that, the Citroen driver was able to control from in front over the last two 'true' stages and the two runs at the Complejo Pro Racing super-special were more like laps of honour for the Frenchman.
"It wasn't easy," said Seb between two autographs. "You only have to look at the gaps to see that. I can tell you, I pushed very hard right up to two stages from home. That forced me into a couple of mistakes, notably my spin in yesterday's loop to the south. Once again though, I was able to count on the Xsara's impeccable reliability and the team didn't put a foot wrong... again. Also, the 'eight' compound Michelin BTO tyre lived every bit up to our expectations. This may be our seventh win of the year, but it only strengthens our resolve to win more. We want to do even better..."
"I reached the finish of this difficult rally in a position which I can't say fully satisfies me," commented Francois Duval. "But I finished and that's the most important thing. It was a phase I had to go through in order to build up my confidence again. That's done now and I'm pleased to see that Sven and I worked well together."
Rally Argentina is obviously not indifferent to Guy Frequelin following his win here in the eighties: "This is a result I want to savour. I can't get enough of this, but this result has a special taste. Not only because it was a difficult rally and establishes a new record, but also because we got four Citroens inside the top-ten and because all this happened in a country that loves its rallying as much as we do..."