WRC

Rally Sardinia: Citroen preview

After its recent victorious trip to New Zealand, Citroën will be counting on its usual crews Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Francois Duval/Stephane Prevot to build on the winning form shown by the Xsara WRC in the southern hemisphere as the...

After its recent victorious trip to New Zealand, Citroën will be counting on its usual crews Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Francois Duval/Stephane Prevot to build on the winning form shown by the Xsara WRC in the southern hemisphere as the series moves on to the gravel of Sardinia.

Last year saw Citroën achieve an excellent close-formation finish on the Mediterranean island when both its cars finished on the podium in Porto Cervo, and that's another performance Sebastien, Francois, their respective co-drivers and the team's technical staff will all be out to build on...

It probably won't be that simple however, since the World Championship's second visit to Sardinia stands out as practically a new event.

The route has undergone significant changes after last year's stages failed to win over the drivers. Their remarks have since been taken onboard though and nearly 80% of this year's competitive distance will be new, even if the exact nature of the first-time tests will only be known for sure after recce is completed. As a function of this feedback, the teams will have to fine-tune their basic set-ups and will then only have the benefit of the three-hour shakedown session to validate any adjustments.

It is difficult to imagine however that the new stages, which are based in essentially the same region as before, will not feature the same sandy base as those they replace. The amount of loose gravel that needed to be brushed aside last year had a certain influence on last year's final outcome and was an area on which Citroën focused during its test work Sardinia. Coming to terms with the sandy surface was also on the programme, as was evaluation of the different products developed by Michelin, and notably its new Z 'BTO' tyres...

Another important consideration is the fact that this year's event has been brought forward a full five months in the WRC calendar and, even on an island renowned for its pleasant Mediterranean climate, the weather before and during the event will not necessarily be the same as that encountered last year.

The 2005 version of Rally Italia Sardinia accordingly raises some very interesting questions but, in the wake of its success in New Zealand, Citroën is hoping that it can put in another top performance to get the second quarter of its 2005 campaign -- which will have a distinctly Mediterranean flavour about it -- off to a flying start.

Finally, two privately-entered Xsaras have been entered by Kronos Racing for Manfred Stohl and Juuso Pykalisto. In the Monte Carlo Rally, as in New Zealand, Manfred finished as the best-placed privateer. Juuso's two outings with the Xsara did not meet with the same success however and, while the Austrian understandably trusts his successful run can continue in Sardinia, the Finn, on the contrary, will be hoping that his fortunes will turn...

-citroen-

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Manfred Stohl , Juuso Pykalisto , Stéphane Prévot
Teams Citroën World Rally Team