Citroen looking for its eighth German success The Rallye Deutschland, round 10 of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship, marks the return of the series to asphalt, seven months after the last sealed surface fixture, the Monte Carlo Rally. Taking...
Citroen looking for its eighth German success
The Rallye Deutschland, round 10 of the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship, marks the return of the series to asphalt, seven months after the last sealed surface fixture, the Monte Carlo Rally. Taking the win of Philippe Bugalski/Jean-Paul Chiaroni in 2001 into account, Citroen has gone unbeaten in Germany for the past seven years. This time round, the French squad will be looking to take that score to eight wins in a row and its bid will be spearheaded by the C4 WRCs of Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti. Urmo Aava/Kuldar Sikk and Conrad Rautenbach/David Senior have also entered Citroens. Their cars are prepared and run by PH Sport with the support of technicians from Citroen Sport Technologies.
Ever since the event's first inclusion in the world calendar in 2002, the Rallye Deutschland's fast stages have always stood out as a unique challenge. The cocktail features the narrow, soiled and twisty lanes of the Moselle River's steep banks, the even dirtier concrete tracks that criss-cross the Baumholder military ranges and, finally, the stages that snake through the fields and woods of the Saarland region. The other hallmark of the German round is its invariably unsettled weather, and the frequent mix of showers and sunny intervals has produced many a dramatic turnaround over the years. This year's competitive distance totals 353.89km divided into 19 stages.
"The Rallye Deutschland's overall package makes it a particularly challenging event," confirms Citroen Sport's Technical Manager Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. "Not only are the stages and different types of surface we face extremely difficult, but the weather tends to be very changeable, too. As far as the set-up is concerned, it is important to find the best compromise that works whatever the conditions. During testing, we worked on optimising the set-up as a function of the new Pirelli P zero Hard tyre. There is a good chance we will use it for the first time this weekend. Indeed, the tyre factor promises to play a big role because we will need to choose between the Hard and Soft variants of the Pirelli P zero, something we haven't had to do since January's Monte Carlo Rally."
"Following our win in Finland, on the home soil of our main rivals, we have no intention of letting them strike back on an event that has always been favourable to us," warns Sebastien 'Loebinen', the new nickname chanted by the Jyvaskyla crowd after his recent landmark victory. "I have tended to enjoy a certain amount of success on the Rallye Deutschland, but it has never been an easy event to win. It has often been a very close run thing. I am looking forward to this year's visit to Germany because we will no doubt have lots of supporters there. However, it's a rally that calls for great caution because the stages can be extremely treacherous."
"We will be looking to win; not to take our score to seven consecutive wins in Trier but because that would be give our chances in both championships a big boost. The Citroen C4 is very competitive on this sort of terrain and we will endeavour to make the most of that. We will also face the delights of tyre choices for the first time in quite a while. I don't know how big an effect that will have on the way the event unfolds, but we will do our best to make the right calls every time."
After their strong fourth place finish in Finland, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti are also looking forward to the German round. "I am feeling increasingly confident on the loose, but it's nice to be back on asphalt," admits Dani. "That said, Germany is a special case. The rain and widespread corner cutting can make the conditions so muddy that it is sometimes almost like a gravel event! It's not my favourite sealed surface rally, but I believe we can target a top finish. I was very pleased with my C4 WRC after our pre-event tests, and asphalt tends to suit me. We will be looking for a good result and a podium finish would be a positive outcome for both Citroen and us."