Sebastien Loeb and Citroen finish 3rd in Finland The 2007 World Rally Championship resumed after an eight-week break this weekend with the Rally Finland - the ninth round of the season - which saw Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen...
Sebastien Loeb and Citroen finish 3rd in Finland
The 2007 World Rally Championship resumed after an eight-week break this weekend with the Rally Finland - the ninth round of the season - which saw Sebastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and their Citroen C4 WRC finish on the third step of the rostrum in Jyvaskyla today.
"Every year, the Rally Finland stands out as one of the season's big challenges," says Guy Frequelin. "For a start, it takes place in the back yard of our main rivals who have used these roads since they were old enough to drive. and sometimes even before! In addition to their knowledge of the actual stages, they have a special grasp of the lie of the land which they acquire progressively over the years. On top of that, Finland is the fastest round of the championship and its specific stages include so many potential pitfalls. All these factors combine to make this event a very special challenge which we didn't entirely succeed in rising to this time round."
The mission facing Citroen Sport and its crews was further complicated by the fact the 57th running of the event featured significant itinerary changes which compounded the characteristics listed above by the team's principle. "More than anywhere else, to succeed here you need to master every single parameter," he continues. "The slightest straying off line or the tiniest drop in confidence in your car can allow big gaps to open up, as we saw with Sebastien on Days 1 and 2." Indeed, despite his best efforts, the three-time World Champion was unable to prevent the two leaders from pulling clear.
"It wasn't for wont of trying," points out Seb. "I pushed very hard on Friday, as well as during the early part of the second leg, yet the gap continued to widen. Although I felt fully confident in my Citroen C4 WRC on Day 1, that was less the case afterwards but perhaps that impression was also due to the fact that I didn't want to make any mistakes and that I didn't have an entirely free hand. The weekend enabled us and the technical team to see how difficult it is in Finland to carry over for the event everything you learn in testing, where repeatedly using the same stretch of road cancels out the sensation of 'discovering' the stages one at a time during the rally. As far as the Drivers' championship goes, coming third isn't really what I was hoping for, but I will try to make the most of the coming asphalt rounds to turn the tables on my rivals."
"Up until SS15, everything was going according to the plan established before the start," relates Dani Sordo. "We didn't take any risks but we still drove at a quick pace and I was able to continue my apprenticeship of this event at the wheel of a WRC car. I'm still not consistent enough but, globally, I felt I was making good progress. I was increasingly at ease at the wheel of the C4 and that's a positive pointer for the gravel events to come."
"Dani put in a first class run and didn't deserve to retire," concludes Guy Frequelin. "He found the right pace and was up amongst the top-five, something which is never easy in Finland. His retirement also means he wasn't able to contest all the stages, not to mention the Manufacturers' points we dropped which makes our situation in the championship even more complex. Seb and Daniel nonetheless limited the damage in the Drivers' standings by finishing third. This result, which wasn't what we were hoping for, shows that we haven't yet succeeded in unlocking the full potential of the C4 which is a new car. It is already more competitive than the Xsara but we now need to be using all its potential. We must try to learn the lessons of what didn't function here to take us forward. I am convinced we have both the resources and the will to do that. Everyone in the team is now looking ahead to Germany where we will be out to do everything in our power to reverse the trend."