Argentina: Citroen Sport - Finish
Two days of intense action in the 2007 Rally Argentina have ended in victory for Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena, who have once again succeeded in taking their C4 WRC to the top of the podium, while the second Citroën of Dani Sordo and Marc
Martí completed the South American round in 6th place.
The classic stages that figured on Sunday's programme high in the sierra were no last-day stroll for competitors who faced two passes over the celebrated Giulio Césare and El Cóndor tests, a loop of almost 80 competitive kilometres without service that was always capable of springing a few surprises. These stages were followed by the Córdoba super-special which concluded the weekend to the delight of the local spectators.
Following the downpour that fell overnight on the Villa Carlos Paz region, the rain had cleared by daybreak, although there was still plenty of standing water in the service park as the two Citroën C4 WRCs set off for the final day equipped with soft compound BFGoodrich tyres. Their tread patterns had been extensively re-cut on both cars with a view to optimising traction.
One of the traditional features of this event is the radio coverage of the stages practically as they happen by the 'palomos' commentators posted along the route to comment on the passage of each car.
With typical enthusiasm, one of them – perched high on a rock in 'El Condor' – practically could be heard screaming into his microphone: "Y vemos ahora la Citroën C4, la flecha roja de Sebastien Loeb
que passa con un estilo espectacularrrrr !!!"
His description basically said it all, although Citroën's red arrow was not only spectacular in the hands of Sebastien Loeb
, it was also – and above all – extremely effective…
Seb and Daniel set off this morning determined to defend their overnight lead and profited from the first two stages to almost double their advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
"I had decided to push from the outset just in case Marcus Grönholm tried something," related Seb. "That enabled us to extend our lead and give us a little more breathing space for the final stages. I am obviously delighted to have notched up another win with the Citroën C4 on what was yet another very different type of event."
"With the exception of the organisational hiccough on Leg 1, it's always a pleasure to compete here in front of such enthusiastic crowds. The C4 ran like clockwork on all the different types of road and we now have a lead of three points over Marcus in the Drivers' standings. It's very close and the battle promises to be just as fierce in Sardinia..." said Sébastien.
Despite their hydraulic problem on Saturday afternoon's SS18, Dani Sordo and Marc Martí were in fighting form and ready for action when they turned up at parc ferme this morning.
"Although today's leg wasn't all that long, it was a chance for us to improve on our position," explained Dani. "A fastest time on SS20 enabled us to move into 7th place. I felt really comfortable with my C4, so I decided to keep pushing and we ended up clinching 6th," said Dani.
"I think the combination of my times over today's challenging stages, the way I felt at the wheel and the reduction in the gap compared with the established drivers shows that I am improving, although I've still got plenty of work on my hands," Dani added.
"With just two days' worth of stages to cover, this year's Rally Argentina ended up being a true sprint event, so even the smallest error was out of the question," commented Guy Fréquelin after the finish.
"The cancellation of seven of Friday's eight scheduled stages turned the weekend into a two-set match which Sébastien and Daniel ended up winning. Everything went perfectly for them and their 32nd world class win with Citroën was amply merited. The C4 WRC's score of 12 fastest times from a possible 16 is also further evidence that it is a competitive package," enthused Fréquelin.
"This is its third consecutive win and its fourth from six rounds since the start of the season. Citroën has also gone unbeaten in Argentina for the past four years now, and that's a tremendous reward for all the excellent work put in by everyone at Citroën Sport. This is a demanding rally and Dani Sordo, who is still young, still lacks experience. But he was also unlucky yesterday and his overall performance was reassuring. I think he has made a step forward and he continues to progress," concluded Guy Fréquelin.