Finishing in second place in the Rally Catalunya, SÃ©bastien Loeb has joined his team-mate Carlos Sainz, who was 7th, at the top of the 'Drivers' Classification. Colin McRae and Philippe Bugalski lied in ninth and tenth position respectively,...
Finishing in second place in the Rally Catalunya, Sébastien Loeb has joined his team-mate Carlos Sainz, who was 7th, at the top of the 'Drivers' Classification. Colin McRae and Philippe Bugalski lied in ninth and tenth position respectively, while Citroën maintained their lead in the "Manufacturers" Championship.
If the sun shone on the first two days, the third leg took place under heavy rain, which soaked the special stages and flooded the Vic service area. Setting his pace according to that of his nearest rivals, Sébastien Loeb kept a margin that could be described as 'sufficient', if not 'comfortable' by the end of the first loop. For the second time round the loop, the young French driver set off with the same type tyres. "As early as the first special stage," he explained, "I noticed that my closest rivals, having selected softer tyres, were quite threatening. I really did the most I could, whilst bearing in mind that I had to be there at the end. I will not pretend that I am pleased at being beaten in the final special stage. However, I stayed on the road, and I have taken the lead of the Championship. Everything will be decided in Wales, just as could have been predicted since Corsica. And I don't intend to give up !"
Having given himself a bit of breathing space over François Duval during the first group of stages, Carlos Sainz made an original choice of tyres : he had a set of extremely soft, Monte-Carlo style, dry road tyres, re-cut to evacuate the water. With this rubber, the Madrid-based driver appeared to be able to retain his fourth position. However, the water that was being sprayed upwards was most probably behind the electrical problem which stopped his engine for forty seconds during the final special stage, and which saw him slide down to seventh place. Although the faulty parts were changed during the final service, the problem reoccurred on the road section heading back to Lloret de Mar. He checked in one minute late - meaning a 10-second penalty - which did not affect the classification.
"I am used to being very careful until we have reached the finish line," Guy Fréquelin pointed out. "And the way this event finished is not going to change my mind. Our two best-placed cars had problems at the same time, and we lost the benefit of a race which had gone perfectly until then. We will obviously analyse exactly what happened, in order to learn any lessons. However, it is very positive that two of our drivers are leading their Championship, while we remain in the lead in the Manufacturers' competition. You can count on us to defend these positions relentlessly in Wales."
Telefónica Movistar, Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of Team Citroën Total in the World Rally Championship