Before Rally Argentina
Championship leader Sebastien Loeb
is just as motivated as ever for the next round of the championship, Rally Argentina.
In 2003, you have said that because of the variety of roads it was difficult to describe the Argentine special stage. What do
you think after three participations?
“I already liked this country after we completed the recce in 2002. Now I really love the rally and its public, the warmest of the Championship I think. Globally, the terrain isn't aggressive. It's quite sandy with a uniform grip but can be rutted on the second passage in a stage. The speed tests are various, technical and specific. On the recce, it is difficult to note the jumps on which you don't take off flat but which launch the car in spectacular poses. It's also tricky to evaluate the water's level the day of the rally in the water-splashes which we will cross at high speed. On the driving side, I put Argentina in my top five rallies. The sensations are great and we take a lot a pleasure driving there.”
Can you tell us how you prepared the event with Citroën Sport's test team?
“For this rally, we had at disposal a solid technical basis. Since 2003, the Xsara has always fought for a win on the Argentine ground. To this data, we have added the information gathered during the season's first gravel round in Mexico, especially regarding the mechanical differentials' working.
We have worked like our rivals in Sardinia where you can find some stages with quite a lot of similarities to Argentina. The classical preparation work included the usual tyre tests with BFGoodrich's technicians. We also tried to fine-tune every single detail. This is important as the fight is very tight.”
By the way, how do you imagine the Argentine round?
“In Mexico, Petter [Solberg] took profit from his starting order and proved afterwards that he was still in the pace on gravel. Marcus [Grönholm] after a rather long road cleaning session was 4 seconds ahead of us. He also has always been very competitive in Argentina. So, the strategy is very simple: opening the road, we will have to drive flat out from the very first meter and clean the road on more than 110 kilometres. Marcus will start just behind me and Petter will only have four cars in front of him. I hope that Friday night the victory could still be possible. In the opposite case, we will see. With thee consecutive wins and a small cushion in the championship leaderboard, it gives us a bit of fresh air.”
Press release Citroen Kronos WRT