CitroÃ«n still leads the WRC. After a great second and third leg, the Xsaras of Colin McRae - Derek Ringer, SÃ©bastien Loeb - Daniel Elena and Carlos Sainz - Marc Marti finished the Swedish Rally in fifth, seventh and ninth ...
Citroën still leads the WRC.
After a great second and third leg, the Xsaras of Colin McRae - Derek Ringer, Sébastien Loeb - Daniel Elena and Carlos Sainz - Marc Marti finished the Swedish Rally in fifth, seventh and ninth positions respectively.
By scoring six points Citroën is still leading the "Manufacturer's Championship". Sébastien Loeb and Colin McRae jointly top the drivers table.
This double result is the best the Versailles-Satory based team could have hoped for after a first very tough leg. The three Xsaras starting first, second and third lost a lot of time by sweeping the loose snow from the surface of the road for those following. Although they finished further down the order at the end of the day, the three drivers never gave up.
During the second leg, the road conditions became almost equivalent for all competitors. Colin, Sébastien and Carlos showed the Xsara's potential : for only its second time in competion on the Swedish Rally the Citroën performed as well as its rivals. The three crews started a determined fight to catch up with the front runners. Colin made a recovery of eight positions, Carlos four, and Sébastien, who lay 18th on Friday evening entered in the top ten.
The third leg of the rally offered a very competitive last day, finishing with a 31,66 km stage "Brunneberg 2" followed a 39,85 km one "Hagfors".
Colin McRae tried to gain another position but decided to secure four precious points. Sébastien Loeb gave it all : for only his second time competing in a WRC car in Sweden, the youngest member of the team overtook Freddy Loix, Carlos Sainz, and Toni Gardemeister on a final push to the end and finished an amazing seventh. "I drove to the maximum, explained Seb' at the finish, "but after losing so much time it's really great to bring two points to the team."
"Except for the first day, we had a good rally", analysed Colin McRae. "This will make us open the road again on the next event. In the meantime, we will keep on working."
Working is Carlos Sainz' leitmotiv. "I didn't have a very good feeling here this year. We have some time to work until the next round to improve even more. In these conditions, I think Sébastien has done an excellent job. He showed again he has got everything to become a champion one day."
I can't say we had an easy rally", concluded Team director Guy Fréquelin, "but we are still leading the two Championships. Our car is fast and reliable, our drivers motivated, performing well and complementary to each other. Our engineers have done a great job once again. And this is fantastic for everybody's confidence."
Telefónica Movistar, Michelin, Magneti-Marelli, OZ, AIS and Citroën Financement are the partners of Team Citroën-Total in the World Rally Championship.
Next round of the 2003 WRC : Rally of Turkey (26 February - 3 March)