Fantastic win for Loeb and his Xsara Only two years after their first outing here in Sanremo behind the wheel of the Xsara WRC, SÃ©bastien Loeb and Daniel Elena won the Italian round. This third victory of the season for the French team-mates...
Fantastic win for Loeb and his Xsara
Only two years after their first outing here in Sanremo behind the wheel of the Xsara WRC, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena won the Italian round. This third victory of the season for the French team-mates was achieved in three steps with two very stressful last stages.
Sébastien carved out a healthy lead on the first day, and then controlled the rally from the front during the second leg. Seb' and Markko Märtin won one stage each in the first loop, leading to no change in the classification. With two tests still to go representing a total of 48 kilometres, a troublefree "finale" was expected when the weather conditions changed dramatically, especially on stage 14 where it hailed.
In these tricky conditions, tyre choice once again became crucial. Gilles Panizzi decided to "gamble" and chose intermediates. Seb' needed all his self-control and talent to preserve his first position after a thrilling final stage. This excellent result combined with Carlos Sainz' fourth place allows Citroën to take the lead of the Manufacturers' Championship.
"It was like in 2001", explained Sébastien "but this time Gilles was the hunter and me the hunted. And like in 2001, the hunted survived. Driving in the stages with dry tyres on the wet was exactly like a holiday on ice but less fun ! We had carefully noted the changes of grip so we could attack when it was drier and could reduce the speed in the slippery sections." Sébastien is now lying second in the drivers' Championship only two points behind the leader and is now dreaming of the title."
Carlos Sainz was as relieved as he was satisfied to bring "five valuable points to the team". The Spaniard was exhausted after three days of painful competition - kidney stones having been removed the week before. Team-mate, Colin McRae was happy to reach the finish in sixth, having found the two last stages "horrible, super slippery and extremely long." He also congratulated Sébastien for 'his fantastic drive to victor"'.
Philippe Bugalski was delighted to have finally reached a finish of the Rallye Sanremo, but disappointed at the same time to have lost seventh place by only three seconds. "I've experienced the two longest stages of my life but I'm happy to score points. This means I'm coming back to my best level, and it's encouraging before Corsica and Catalunya".
Team boss Guy Fréquelin was already thinking about the next steps : "What a fantastic rally. I'm very proud of the team, and the result we've achieved in both Manufacturers' and Drivers' Championships. I hope for even better moments in the coming month."
Telefónica Movistar, Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, Kinetic, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of Team Citroën Total in the World Rally Championship