Loeb faces new challenge on tarmac

ADAC RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND – 19-21/08/2011

For the first time in the history of the World Rally Championship, Citroën has achieved the feat of winning seven events on the trot. The Citroën DS3 WRC, unbeaten on gravel, now faces a new challenge on tarmac in Germany. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have never lost in Trier, start the ninth round as favourites. In their wake, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will also be out to maintain Citroën Racing’s supremacy!

After starting the 2011 season on snow followed by a series of seven victories on gravel, the Citroën DS3 WRCs will make their competition debut on tarmac in the ‘Rallye Deutschland’.

Since the German event has become part of the Rally World Championship in 2002, Citroën, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have never been beaten and have run up a string of eight victories.

By winning the last seven rallies, Citroën has pulled out a lead of 65 points in the Manufacturers’ WorldChampionship classification. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who emerged victorious in Rally Finland at theend of July, lead the Drivers/Co-drivers rankings by 27 points. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia arecurrently lying third, 31 points behind their team-mates.

“Some tarmac at last,” smiles Sébastien Loeb dominant on this surface for more than five years. “I know thateverybody will be gunning for me in Germany. We’ve never been beaten on these roads but the series willcome to an end one day. It’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t!”

“None of the sectors is alike”, continues the driver from Alsace. “There are three very distinct parts with themilitary camp, the vines and the country roads. Generally speaking, the stages are very quick anddemanding. We’re up against a real challenge. It’s vital to have good notes and to be in perfect osmosis withyour co-driver to win.“

Sébastien Ogier has less experience than his team-mate and will start only his third Rally Germany, hissecond at the wheel of a WRC. “It’s an atypical rally with a lot of differences from one stage to the next,”underlines the Frenchman. “I like certain sections more than others. Although I was on the podium last year,I wasn’t able to match the pace of the winners. This year, we’re determined to show that we’ve improved.”During testing the former Junior World Championship was able to get a feel for the handling of his CitroënDS3 WRC: “The car felt good but racing and testing are two very different things. A priori, our rivals shouldbe better armed than in previous seasons. We have to score more points than the current leader even if weknow that he has racked up a remarkable string of results in Germany! In any case, it’s not going to be aneasy rally.”

The Citroën Total World Rally Team could also set another record in the ADAC Rally Germany. Another winwould make Citroën the manufacturer with the highest number of victories in the World Championship (77before this event).

Three questions to Sébastien Loeb

Has your victory in Finland changed your approach to the end of theseason?“There are still five events left to run and a lot of points are up for grabs. Mywin in Finland was one of the greatest of my career after a battle that lastedthree days. It’s true that my aim was not to lose too many points on this difficultterrain to stay in the lead in the world championship before the first event ontarmac. I suppose you could say that we achieved this objective! Overall, it wasa pretty good result, but it hasn’t modified our strategy for the end of theseason. We still have to score as many points as possible in each rally.”

You’re unbeaten in Germany so this makes you the hot favourite, doesn’tit?“I know that this series will come to an end one day. The competition is gettingstronger and stronger. This year there’s a new, unknown factor with the arrival on new WRCs on asphalt.Despite all this I’m feeling pretty confident. I love Rally Germany. It’s a very special event for me. My fanshave always given me fantastic backing and it’s here that I scored my first world championship victory. TheCitroën DS3 WRC was very quick during testing, and tarmac is a surface on which we’ve enjoyed a lot ofsuccess.”

What did you feel during testing in the DS3 WRC?“In relation to what we experienced before, the Citroën DS3 WRC is a bit more reactive. Its handling andbalance are very good. The central self-adjusting differential has been banned by the new regulations, but thecar runs very well without the help of electronics. The Michelin tyres are different to the ones we had inprevious years. We ran through a wide range of setups to find the right ones. We know our rivals have alsodone a lot of work, but we’re ready for them!”