Loeb and Elena on the way to new records?
For Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena, Rally Germany is an exceptional event. Since its reintegration into the World Championship calendar in 2002, the Franco-Monegasque pair have won it on every occasion and they are determined to pursue
their unbeaten record! In the Citroen Total World Rally Team's second C4 WRC, Dani Sordo will have a new co-driver for the first time, Diego Vallejo.
After Bulgaria, Rally Germany is the second of the four asphalt rallies in the 2010 FIA World Championship. This event has nothing but good memories for the Citroen Total World Rally Team beginning with Sebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena's first real victory (2002). Six more successes have followed, and Seb and Daniel hold the record for the number of consecutive wins in the same event.
An eighth success would enable the six-time world champion duo to improve their statistics, but that would be purely incidental. Should the French national anthem rings out on Sunday at the Porta Nigra in Trier, it will signify that the Citroen crew is well on its way to another world title. In the eight rallies already run this season, Loeb and Elena have always finished on the podium and four times on the topmost step. With 48 and 61 points in hand over Sebastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala, the leaders find themselves in an ideal situation - one which they can still improve!
"I've always felt good in this rally and things have always gone well for me here. My aim in Germany is obviously an eighth victory," says Loeb who will be racing only a few dozen kilometres away from his native Alsace. "But three other good drivers also have C4 WRCs, the best car of the moment. That means that I'm going to have to pull out all the stops to stay in front of them. It's an interesting challenge as the three legs are all different. The stages among the Mosel vines have nothing in common with those in the Baumholder military camp. As is often the case, the weather can play a very important role in the outcome of the event, so it looks like it`s going to be an exciting and unpredictable race."
After competing in Rally Finland in the Citroen Junior Team, Dani Sordo is back in the cockpit of the no. 2 C4 WRC. The Spaniard will be backed up by Diego Vallejo, who has replaced Marc Marti. "It isn't a sudden decision, but I reached the conclusion that there were some things I had to change to progress," explains Dani. "Marc has given me a lot over the past six seasons and we parted on friendly terms. Diego and I have known each other for a long time; we're on the same wave length and I think we're going to work together in real harmony. It will be his first outing in Rally Germany but I don't think it's one of the most difficult events for a co-driver." Dani was second in this event in 2006 and 2008 and intends to do at least as well this year. "As in Bulgaria, I'll try and score the maximum number of points for Citroen. It won't be easy and in particular, I will have to watch out in the 47-km stage in the military camp. It's very hard on tyres and you have to adopt the right rhythm to avoid punctures."
Three questions to Olivier Quesnel
Let's look back on Rally Finland. With Sebastien Ogier in second place and Sebastien Loeb
just behind, several people expected you to inverse the positions
"Like in Portugal we opted for the sporting aspect by not interfering in the classification in an artificial manner. You had to have an overview of the situation. Mikko Hirvonen had retired and Petter Solberg was behind our two drivers. Third place for Sebastien Loeb
was a very good result in the context of the drivers' championship. By leaving Sebastien Ogier in second place we were able to keep up the pressure on Jari-Matti Latvala. At the same time, this result meant that Ogier didn't lose too many points in relation to Latvala, his direct rival in the championship. I'd like to add that we talked the situation through with our two drivers and Sebastien Loeb
told us that he didn't want to finish second in such conditions."
Does that mean you'll allow your drivers to fight it out between themselves till the end of the season?
"Citroen Racing's aim is to keep the World Rally Championship Drivers' and Manufacturers' titles. At present, we're on target to achieve this as Sebastien Loeb
and Citroen lead both championships. As in Finland, we'll have to analyse each situation as it arises."
Dani Sordo will have Diego Vallejo as co-driver in this rally. Is it the start of a new season for him?
"I certainly hope so! With the exception of Rally Bulgaria, Dani has experienced a fairly difficult season so far. It became obvious that a change was necessary as the rallies unfolded. It was up to him to take the decision. He's made his choice calmly after examining several possibilities. We'd like to welcome Diego Vallejo, and we hope he'll help Dani to finish the season on a high note. I'm still convinced that his first victory in the world championship isn't too far off."