Hat-trick for Loeb and CitroÃ«n SÃ©bastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Xsara WRC confirmed their position as pre-event favourites by winning in Trier for the third year in a row. This amazing performance was underlined by the superb third place...
Hat-trick for Loeb and Citroën
Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Xsara WRC confirmed their position as pre-event favourites by winning in Trier for the third year in a row. This amazing performance was underlined by the superb third place claimed by Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti. It will also be remembered for the atrocious weather conditions, which made the first two days of the event so difficult. The Xsaras won nine of the twenty-four special stages, and led the race from beginning to end, Seb taking over, after SS2, from Carlos Sainz, the first event leader.
Claiming two places on the German podium, Citroën, the reigning 'Manufacturers' World Champions, have increased their lead in the 2004 classification to 29 points. As far as the 'Drivers' title is concerned, Sébastien Loeb, with his fifth win this season - also has a margin of 29 points - almost three wins - over Markko Märtin, closely followed by Carlos Sainz, who is third, one point behind the Estonian. The Chevron team is therefore close to claiming a 'full score', as Claude Satinet, General Director of Automobiles Citroën summerised at Bostalsee by saying "Objective totally fulfilled !"
Almost bombarded with well-wishers when he arrived at the final service area, Sébastien admitted that he found it difficult to give a hierarchy to his three victories in this event, with which he has a particular affinity considering its proximity to his own area of Alsace : "2002 was the very first win of my career, so of course it was quite unforgettable. Last year's was important, as it was so close. This year, the gap might be wider, but the road conditions could have rubbed it all out at any moment... Overall," he smiled, delighted, "I have never really won easily here !" And the reason for this three-fold success ? " It's a rally where you have to both push and be patient, and that was even more true than ever this year. And you must be careful in such precarious conditions..." The new positions in the Drivers' championship open up certain possibilities. "Of course, it is interesting," the leader admitted. " But as long as it is not over, we will stay as concentrated as possible..."
Did the third place Carlos Sainz scored reconcile " El Matador " with the German rally ? "Almost !" the Spanish driver replied with a smile. " Marc and I have claimed our third podium in a row, thanks to both the team's excellent work and to our unyielding motivation. We are now third in the championship, and as well as the position, I am quite naturally very satisfied to see that I am still able to be up with the best..."
"It was not easy," Guy Fréquelin admitted. "In this event, it would have been simple for a team to make a mistake in tyre choices. We came out rather well. It would have been easy for the drivers to go off the road. They were able to avoid the potential traps, completing a race as brilliant as it was intelligent. It was vital for us not to give in on the tarmac, we defended and kept our stronghold. We are now in a good position in both championships and we are more keen than ever to keep hold of it all but there is still a long way to go!"