Clean sweep for the Citroën DS3 WRCs

A one-two for Ogier and Loeb


By Olivier Ferret

27 March 2011 - 22:00
Clean sweep for the Citroën DS3 (...)

A year after scoring their first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship in Portugal, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia racked up win number two in the same event. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crew came first in the Algarve after driving a perfect race. The DS3 WRC scored the first double of its fledgling career thanks to Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who are dead-heating with Mikko Hirvonen for the lead in in the drivers’ world title chase.

The Citroën Total World Rally Team started the third and last day of Rally Portugal with a lead of more than four minutes over its rivals, and controlled the end of the race. Over the whole of the 31,04 kilometers making up Santana de Serra 1 (SS15), the two crews got down to validating their pace notes to prepare for the second passage rewarded by the points for the Power Stage. They spent the rest of the morning nursing their cars and tyres until the start of the final run.

Beyond the fact of consolidating the expected double of the Citroën DS3 WRCs, the aim of the last day was to score a few additional points in the final stage. The latter began in slightly damp conditions and the line dried out as the cars drove through. Petter Solberg led for a long time, but finally it was Sébastien Loeb who set the fastest time. Jari-Matti Latvala came second and third-placed Sébastien Ogier was unable to knock the seven-time world champion off his perch!

When the Citroën Total World Rally returned to the Estadio Algarve, they celebrated this clean sweep and Ogier’s third victory in the world championship from his team-mate, Loeb.

The winner was congratulated by the whole team with whom he shared his joy: “It’s been a perfect weekend. We controlled our first day well and then we pushed at the right moment. It’s a telling result for the whole team with the double and the points in the Power Stage. After six months without a win I was starting to get a bit edgy. I hope it’s the start of a good series. The points we’ve bagged today will help us relaunch our championship challenge after our disappointment in Rally Mexico. I’d like to thank the team for all their hard work. I’m as happy for them as I am for myself!”

Sébastien Loeb finished second and scored twenty points this weekend thanks to his bonus in the last stage. This means that he now dead-heats for the leads in the Drivers’ World Championship with Mikko Hirvonen: “Our victory hopes were dashed yesterday when we lost thirty seconds in the dust thrown up by Mikko’s car,” Seb repeated. “Second was the best we could hope for. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to score the three bonus points in the Power Stage - but we did! It’s a positive result for us and for the whole team. These points will be very precious as the championship looks like being a very closely-fought one.”

Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën General Manager was present with the team during the rally, and he expressed his delight when he congratulated his crews: “I remember a young driver who was over the moon when he won his first rally here a year ago. This year, Sébastien Ogier has taken on a whole new dimension that he’s confirmed with this magnificent victory. Sébastien Loeb, who was unlucky with the rally conditions, has helped the Citroën DS3 WRC to score its first double. Bravo to the whole team and the results of our two crews are crucial for all Automobiles Citroën’s collaborators. We hope this one-two finish will be the first of many!”

Olivier Quesnel, the boss of Citroen’s WRC operation, added: “It’s been a great weekend, the first one-two for the DS3 after the victory in Mexico. We’ve now had three rallies [this season] and twice Citroen has won. Sebastien Loeb came back for the drivers’ [championship] and Citroen is back too so we are very pleased because we have come back in the game.

“Portugal is representative of what we will see for each event, and we have a really strong car. Ford is also really competitive and there are 10 rallies still to go so we have to work but we have to be confident.”



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