Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who set out Sunday morning to take the fight for victory to Jari-Matti Latvala, were unable to defend their corner to the very end of the rally. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew was hit by a car coming in the opposite direction on a liaison section and had to retire at the start of the last day of the race. This incident did not prevent Citroën Racing from celebrating their eight-time world champions on the podium in Cardiff! Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia finished the event in 11th place.
The fourth day of Rally Great Britain consisted of six stages for a total of 84 km, and it promised to be the theatre of a thrilling duel between Latvala and Loeb. Unfortunately, the no. 1 Citroën DS3 WRC was forced to retire on the liaison section between SS18 and 19. “It’s a pity because I would have liked to have finished the battle with Jari-Matti. What happened is fairly ordinary: we were on a narrow road and we came upon a car on the top of a crest where there was no visibility. The Spanish driver had the wrong reflex and pulled in to the right and we collided,” explained Sébastien Loeb. “The radiator was damaged and we were out on the spot. It’s proof that a rally isn’t over till you’re back in the parc fermé!”
After recovering the car, the technical team did everything necessary to make it presentable for the podium opposite Cardiff castle. “We won’t let this incident spoil the party,” said Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën General Manager. “Sébastien, Daniel and Citroën Racing have achieved a remarkable season. Ten victories in thirteen rallies, the manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles, new records set: the whole team has more than fulfilled the expectations of the make. From Sweden to Great Britain, the WRC has helped us to showcase our Créative Technologie on four continents. These victories and these titles have helped embed rallying a little deeper in Citroën’s genes!”
“So far we haven’t really had time to celebrate this title as we were completely involved in the rally. Again this morning we had to get up at 4h30 to go and tackle the stages,” added Loeb. “Now we can celebrate it at last with the whole team. All the titles are important and memorable as they’re never put together in the same way. This season, the overall level was very high and we had to fight right down till the last rally. I’m proud to have become the most-titled racing driver, even if one shouldn’t really try and compare the different branches of the sport. I never thought I’d achieve this when I started my career!”
While the Citroën Racing mechanics were busy putting the no. 1 DS3 WRC back into shape, no. 2 continued racing in the Welsh forests. Sébastien Ogier set three fastest times on the last day and finished the event in 11th place: ”Going through each stage twice has helped us to understand the difficulties of this rally a bit better. It’ll be useful to us next time we race here. We’re trying to go quick enough to validate our notes and enjoy ourselves at the same time. I’d like to congratulate Sébastien and Daniel on their titles. Once again, they’ve proved they’re simply the best and that really deserves respect.”
Result Subject to official publication of the results by the FIA.
The figuresSébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena Sébastien Ogier / Julien IngrassiaSS18: Halfway 1 (14,93 km) 2nd +1.4s 2nd +7.5s 5th +17.3s 14th +17’42.9sSS19: Crychan 1 (22,73 km) - - 2nd +9.9s 13th +17’52.8sSS20: Monument 1 (4,36 km) - - 1st 13th +17’52.6sSS21: Halfway 2 (14,93 km) - - 2nd +2.6s 13th +17’55.2sSS22: Crychan 2 (22,73 km) - - 1st 12th +17’51.0sSS23: Monument 1 (4,36 km) - - 1st 11th +17’47.8s
Fastest stage timesDay 1 – SS1: Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta) – SS2: Sébastien Loeb (Citroën DS3) – SS3: Mikko Hirvonen(Ford Fiesta).Day 2 – SS4: Loeb – SS5 and 6: Hirvonen – SS7: Loeb – SS8: Latvala – SS9: Kris Meeke (Mini JCW) –SS10 and 11: Latvala.Day 3 – SS12: Loeb – SS13 – Latvala – SS14: Loeb – SS15 to 17: Latvala.Day 4 – SS18 and 19: Latvala – SS20: Ogier – SS21: Latvala – SS22 and 23: Ogier.Best performers: Latvala, 11 fastest times – Loeb, 5 – Hirvonen and Ogier, 3 – Meeke, 1.Leaders: SS1 and 2 : Latvala – SS3 to 5: Loeb – SS6: Hirvonen – SS7 to 14: Loeb – SS15 to 23: Latvala.
Unofficial overall general classification1 JM. Latvala / M. Antilla Ford Fiesta RS WRC 3h27’03.5s2 M. Ostberg / J. Andersson Ford Fiesta RS WRC +3’42.9s3 H. Solberg / I. Minor Ford Fiesta RS WRC +7’05.0s4 K. Meeke / P. Nagle Mini JCW +7’12.2s5 M. Wilson / S. Martin Ford Fiesta RS WRC +8’57.2s6 O. Tänak / K. Sikk Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9’27.0s7 E. Novikov / D. Giraudet Ford Fiesta RS WRC +9’47.7s8 D. Kuipers / F. Miclotte Ford Fiesta RS WRC +10’12.7s9 K. Block / A. Gelsomino Ford Fiesta RS WRC +16’01.2s10 A. Araujo / M. Ramalho Mini JCW +17’01.6s