Goaaaalll... for Loeb, Sordo and Citroen!Sebastien Loeb
, Daniel Elena and their Citroen C4 WRC overcame the three days of rain, fog and treacherous conditions that were thrown at them during the 2008 Rally Argentina to end the fiercely fought battle on top spot. The
mud didn't deter the spectators from turning out in their usual high numbers as Dani Sordo and Marc Marti joined their team-mates on the podium in third place. The visit to South America turned out to be highly successful for Citroen-Total, with Sebastien taking control in the Drivers' championship, while Citroen is now just three points short of the lead in the Manufacturers' standings.
The final leg of the event was once again marked by wet weather, with fog also making an appearance high in the mountains of the 'Giulio Cesare' and 'El Condor' tests. These were the only true stages of the day before one last visit to the super-special in Cordoba and the finish ceremony in Villa Carlos Paz.
Just like Diego Maradona in the days when he starred with the N10 jersey in Argentina's national soccer squad, Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena deftly dribbled round the weekend's countless pitfalls to put their rivals on the wrong foot as they powered home to victory with their Citroen C4 WRC. During Thursday's shakedown session, as guest passenger alongside Seb, 'El Pibe de Oro' had been able to see at first hand that the defending World Champion is not just strong technically but also that it's not only with a ball that a top sportsman can juggle!
One of the challenges faced by Seb over the three days was having to run on Pirelli tyres which, in keeping with the regulations, turned out to be too hard for the wet conditions. Along with near-zero grip, crews often had to contend with extremely low visibility, too, so it's no surprise that Sebastien and Daniel were delighted with their 39th world class win. "Believe me, it wasn't easy," admitted Seb.
"Given the delicate conditions, we had to stay doubly concentrated from start to finish. We also benefited from a faultless performance from our Citroen C4 which was once again competitive and reliable. Before coming here, we had been hoping that Rally Argentina would enable us to take the lead in the Drivers championship and score points for Citroen, and that's what we've done!" Today's result is Citroen's fifth straight success in Argentina, while Sebastien has become the most successful driver ever on the South American fixture with a score of four consecutive wins to his name.
"It would have been so easy to get caught out," remarked Dani Sordo before the podium ceremony. "It really has been a difficult event: a single bend could have compromised all the good work put in by everyone in the team and the chance for Citroen to close the gap in the championship. I am please to have finished third and my times were on a par with what I was hoping for."
With two cars on the podium, Sebastien Loeb
now on top of the Drivers' championship and Citroen closer to the lead in the Manufacturers' standings, Olivier Quesnel was also understandably delighted with the way the weekend turned out. "It's an excellent result for us. When you see how the event unfolded, it clearly wasn't an easy rally, yet both our crews figured amongst the few who didn't put a foot wrong. Apart from the steering rack problem which slowed Dani on Friday, we didn't have any mechanical trouble either. The combination of two such sure-footed drivers and the reliability of the C4 has enabled us to go top in the Drivers' standings and also make up much of our deficit in the Manufacturers' points table. It's now up to us to keep up the hard work in order to leave nothing to chance with a view to repeating the same sort of performance in Jordan, which is the next round. I would also like to congratulate Conrad Rautenbach and David Senior whose fine run took them to fourth overall with their Citroen C4 WRC run by PH Sport with support from Citroen Sport Technologies technicians. Conrad scored his first WRC points in an event that was far from straightforward given the conditions."