Germany - Citroen Sport - Finish
For the sixth year in a row, Sebastien Loeb
, Daniel Elena and Citroën were given a standing ovation by the crowd at the finish ceremony in front of the celebrated Porta Nigra gate in Trier.
Yet again, the ancient Roman city turned
out to be happy hunting ground for the French manufacturer, who notched up its seventh Rallye Deutschland win this weekend, while Seb and Daniel took their score of world class successes to 33.
The final day's programme featured just 63km of against-the-clock action, yet the Mosel Valley vineyards and the high kerbs and guardrails of the Trier super special called for extreme caution.
"It may be short, but the final day promises to very stressful," predicted Guy Fréquelin. "I know I've said it before, but nothing is over until the finish line has been crossed. Rallying is probably the most unpredictable of all motor sports. The final stages demanded careful preparation and everyone at Citroën Sport was extremely fired up this morning and wanted to win. It's great to have succeeded."
"With a lead of 37.8s over Marcus Grönholm this morning, we had no reason to take any risks today," commented Sébastien after the finish ceremony. "We made sure we kept an eye on the other drivers' times and adopted our pace accordingly. With François Duval hard on his heels, Marcus couldn't afford to lift and we had to make sure he didn't get too close to us. This sort of situation is never easy because you always run the risk of getting into a false rhythm.
At the same time, it means you are leading, which is obviously nice! I tried to drive sufficiently quickly to stay concentrated and avoid making any mistakes."
"Before the start," he continued, "we knew we had to start pulling back points if we wanted to stay in the title chase. I have always felt comfortable in Germany, so this was the ideal place to do that. At the same time, I didn't want to disappoint all my supporters who come here to see us every year. We were consequently under quite a lot of pressure but we were able to cope with it thanks to the help of everyone at Citroën Sport."
Sébastien's 33rd world class win has a special taste for the Frenchman: "It's always nice to win this event. It is based close to my home region of Alsace and it's the event that gave me my first WRC win in 2002, so it is something very special. I am delighted to have won again. Apart from our poor tyre choice for Friday afternoon's stages, everything went well and, as ever, my Citroën was remarkably competitive. We have closed the gap to our main rival in the championship by five points and everything is still wide open, although the fight ahead promises to be very fierce."
"This is the sixth win from six starts here in Trier for Sébastien and Daniel, a new record, and all six times they have won with Citroën. On top of that, Philippe Bugalski/Jean-Paul Chiaroni won the Rallye Deutschland in 2001 before it became a World Championship qualifying round. We were never really threatened by our main rival, the C4 showed its potential on asphalt and Seb succeeded in closing the gap to Grönholm, so it's been a very satisfying weekend. On top of that, the final day saw François Duval put his OMV Kronos Citroën Xsara between Sébastien and Marcus which allowed Seb to close the gap by even more points. There are still six rounds to come but we can't afford to waste any opportunities to bridge the gap in either championship," concluded Guy Fréquelin.