Sweden : CitroŽn Sport - FinnishSebastien Loeb
and Daniel Elena took their CitroŽn C4 WRC to the second step of the 2007 Swedish Rally's podium ahead of their CitroŽn Sport team-mates Dani Sordo and Marc MartŪ who finished 12th overall.
Despite the CitroŽn C4 WRC's
one-two finish in the hands of Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc MartŪ on January's Monte Carlo Rally, there was an overriding sense of caution in the CitroŽn Sport camp going into 2007 World Rally Championship's second round. Despite the new car's speed on asphalt, everyone was keen to see how the Satory-based squad's latest challenger performed on the Swedish Rally's icy terrain and whether it was just as competitive in slippery conditions.
Guy Frťquelin was encouraged by the information gleaned during the opening day: "Even though Seb spent all of Friday running first on the road, we saw that C4 WRC was capable of challenging for victory on the snow and ice here in Sweden. That's extremely encouraging for the rest of the championship." Sebastien Loeb
agreed: "This event has nothing in common with the Monte Carlo Rally. With a new car, we were essentially starting from a clean sheet and I was eager to see how the C4 WRC performed in these conditions and I have to say that I'm delighted with my times. To be up there fighting with the front-runners straight away is very reassuring because the difference between the set-up for snow and dirt is not all that big, so I don't think we should be too far out of our depth during the coming rounds."
Dani Sordo's mission in Sweden was more complex.
The young Spaniard knew that his modest experience of the wintry round meant he would basically spend the weekend familiarising himself with the highly specific conditions, and he wasn't helped when he lost time with an early minor off. "On top of my slow-speed error on SS2, I still need to find my marks. I am concentrating on keeping the car on the road and trying to learn as much as I can about driving on snow..."
Sťbastien kicked off Day 2 by posting his third fastest time of the rally on SS9 and admitted that he had every intention of fighting for victory. A little later on, though, a different tyre choice compared to that of his main rival failed to produced the hoped for result and the three-time World Champion lost ground. The resulting gap prompted him to concentrate instead on defending his 2nd place and using the rest of the event to prepare for next weekend's Rally Norway. "Just as we were having a good scrap with Marcus GrŲnholm, who is the man to beat here, we went for a different tyre choice compared to him and it didn't pay off. It's obviously frustrating to be outdistanced because of something like that, but I still go away with eight points which means we are still leading the championship. We have also been able to see how competitive the C4 WRC is and that's nice to know for what lies ahead."
Guy Frťquelin leaves Sweden feeling upbeat: "Although this event is very different from the Monte Carlo, we showed that the CitroŽn C4 WRC was a very competitive package here. Sťbastien and Dani are pleased with the handling of the car which they find nicely balanced and easy to drive. The eight points Seb scored for finishing 2nd are naturally important, as is the point picked up by Dani. All things being equal, he couldn't have expected much more here. Given how little experience he has, he managed to put in just the sort of performance I wanted from him. The way the event unfolded proved yet again that to succeed in Sweden you need to be perfect on every front. As in Finland, if you want to take the fight to Marcus, every detail counts."
Dani Sordo's consistency in his role of apprentice enabled him to achieve his objective: "I am glad to have reached the finish but I can't say that I'm completely satisfied with my performance because I'm still too hesitant. There are lots of corners where I know I dropped time. I've gained more experience but I've still got so much to learn." He completed the distance in 12th position to earn an additional point for his team which keeps CitroŽn on top of the provisional Manufacturers'.