Podium for Carlos Sainz and CitroÃ«n The Xsara WRC of Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti finished the inaugural 'World Championship' version of Rally Mexico in third place. This podium, won after an eventful rally, is the 89th in the career of the ...
Podium for Carlos Sainz and Citroën
The Xsara WRC of Carlos Sainz and Marc Marti finished the inaugural 'World Championship' version of Rally Mexico in third place. This podium, won after an eventful rally, is the 89th in the career of the Spanish driver, " la leyenda viviente " of the rallying world, if the local papers are to be believed.
"One of the particularities of our sport is that you can go from delight to despair in a moment," Guy Fréquelin explained at the finish line. "After the end of the fifth special stage, our Xsaras were in the top two positions. By the end of the next stage, we had lost a car, which was very bad news as far as the Manufacturers' Championship is concerned. Today, Carlos filled us with hope by closing up on the leader. Then we all trembled when he put his car up on its side, two special stages from the end of the rally. Eventually, he claimed a valuable podium, which confirms the main point to be remembered : our Xsara was up with the best here..."
Carlos Sainz has not had an easy rally. At the start of the event, he had to try to clear his mind from the tragic events which had hit Spain. Half-way through Friday's running, he softened the suspension settings which he had chosen for the first loop, which he had expected to be drier. Then he completed the first group of stages on Saturday with tyres that were too hard for the road conditions encountered, tyres which, in the end, he had to keep for the second loop as well.
At the end of a second leg, completed on just one set of tyres, the Spanish Champion had incredibly come back up to second place, under fifteen seconds behind the rally leader.
At the start of Sunday's leg, he managed to reduce the margin to eleven seconds ... " Today, we were under a bit of pressure," Carlos summarised at the end of the day. "Being the only Xsara left in the race, we absolutely had to finish the rally. However, we tried hard, and we believed we could win, before making a small mistake. Then it was a case of collecting six points, important both for Citroën and for us... This rally will remain in my memory, both due to the non-sporting events of which everyone is aware, but also because it has been a very well organised FIA WRC round, which I enjoyed getting to know..."
After a close battle with Petter Solberg on Friday, Sébastien Loeb had a comfortable lead when his rally came to an abrupt end at the end of SS6, due to a badly-placed rock which damaged his sump. Seb's last retirement dates back to the Acropolis rally, in early June 2003. Since then, the young French driver finished the ten rallies in which he took part, winning four of them, and scored podium points on four other occasions.
These excellent statistics did not prevent him from admitting, on Saturday evening, that it had been "A real disappointment !" before adding again what he already explained before the start : " To be the leader of the Championship does not place me under pressure, it's just the opposite ! I can tell myself that even if the rally goes badly, I will still not be far behind in the standings..."
Quite true, as he is still leading the classification, thanks to his two victories, ahead of Markko Märtin, who has scored the same number of points...