Two Citroens in the top five Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti have finished the final leg of the Rally New Zealand with no problems. The two Spanish Kronos Total Citroen crews end the event in fourth and fifth ...
Two Citroens in the top five
Xevi Pons/Carlos Del Barrio and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti have finished the final leg of the Rally New Zealand with no problems. The two Spanish Kronos Total Citroen crews end the event in fourth and fifth places respectively.
The Kiwi round of the World Championship has now moved location to Hamilton, south of Auckland and also date, to the end of the world rally season and springtime in the southern hemisphere. At this time of year, the weather can be inconsistent and unpredictable as proved to be exactly the case on the rally. The crews frequently encountered wet, damp, muddy and therefore tricky conditions on the magnificent gravel roads that characterise New Zealand.
In the absence of Sebastien Loeb, who went home after completing the recce of the new route, Xevi Pons was once more entrusted with the number one Citroen Xsara. Confirming his current form and impressive turn of speed, Xevi drove one of the best rallies of his career on roads that he loved. Having been slightly delayed by a spin on Friday, the Spaniard set two fastest times on Sunday that allowed him to move past his team mate.
"For the third time in succession, we've finished just off the podium," said a delighted Xevi, having congratulated the entire team. "I think that we're getting there now. I really like fast roads and we found them here : I had a lot of fun even though the surfaces were very slippery. These conditions prepared us well for the Rally Great Britain, and I hope to have the same success in Cardiff."
In New Zealand, Dani Sordo had to get to grips with a brand new rally for the fifth consecutive time. The reigning Junior World Rally Champion took particular care to do a good job on the recce. It worked : he had the satisfaction of seeing that his notes were correct during the actual rally. Dani occupied a provisional podium place on Friday night, having been encouragingly quick on stages that were new for everyone. But the Spaniard wisely decided that discretion was the better part of valour, eventually dropping two places en route to a faultless finish on Sunday. "It was a difficult rally for me, and I imagine that is the case for any driver coming here for the first time," he said. "I'm very happy to have got to the end without problems in quite a good position, and I'm very happy with the notes I made with my co-driver Marc Marti. I think we've done an excellent job with an eye to the future..."
Kronos Total Citroen team principal Marc Van Dalen was delighted with the formation finish from his two young Spanish crews. "Of course, we would have preferred the fight for the constructors' title to go down to the wire on the Wales Rally GB," he said. "But Malcolm Wilson's team has done a brilliant job here and I would like to congratulate them before anything else. It's a great honour for Kronos to have given this team such closely-fought and fair competition, which hung in the balance for so long. Xevi and Dani were free to drive as they wished here. They were both well-placed and close to each other throughout the rally, and both crews reached the finish. This has allowed them to learn as much as possible, which is very encouraging for their future..."