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Loeb, Elena and Citroën out to defend their lead

"Everything’s gone well for us in the early part of the season"

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By Franck D.

30 April 2010 - 13:41
Loeb, Elena and Citroën out to (...)

After Europe, America and Asia the WRC is bound for Australasia for Rally New Zealand.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, victorious in the last three 2010 rallies, are heading for the
Antipodes determined to continue in the same vein. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, their team-mates in the Citroën Total World Rally Team, are hoping to finally reap the rewards of their efforts with a place on the podium.

Rally New Zealand has been on the World Championship calendar since 1977, and is one of the classic rallies. The gravel roads are quick and really sort out the men from the boys: the drivers love them, and so do the photographers! The Whaanga Coast stage on a cliff bordering the Tasmanian Sea is considered by many as the most beautiful spot of the season.

The 2010 event marks a return to Auckland. The service park will be located on the port near the facilities used for the Americas Cup at the start of the noughties. The route promises a very varied challenge with three service parks in Whangarei (Friday), Hampton Downs (Saturday) and Raglan (Sunday).

In the last Rally New Zealand in 2008, Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo gave the Citroën Total World Rally Team a double! The five-time world championship team will arrive in the country in the role of defender. This status is reinforced by the results of the opening rallies of the season, as after finishing second in Sweden, Loeb won the next three rounds in Mexico, Jordan and Turkey, so it’s no surprise to find him leading the Drivers’ World Championship, while the Citroën Total World Rally Team is in front in the Manufacturers’ one.

Seb has a 40-point lead over his closest pursuer and he will leave Auckland leading the championship, no matter what the result. “Everything’s gone well for us in the early part of the season,” smiles the Citroën driver. “The fact that our main rivals have shared the runner-up spots has helped us to open up a gap in the overall classification. Even if we’ve won the New Zealand Rally on two occasions I’m still being a bit cautious, as our rivals are usually very strong on this type of surface. Whatever the case, I’m really looking forward to racing in this event. The stages are magnificent and fairly easy on the car; it’s one of
the rallies where you get the most pleasure out of driving.

Dani Sordo has had an up-and-down start to the season with two fourth places and two retirements. The Spaniard has always been on the pace in terms of sheer performance, but he hasn’t yet managed to turn this into results. “I hope that Lady Luck’s going to smile on me at last and that I’ll be back on the podium,” he states. “We’ve been among the front-runners in all the events so far; there’s no reason why it should be any different in New Zealand. What we’ve been lacking is just that little bit of success to transform our potential into results for the team. I’ll devote myself to continuing in the same vein in this event that I really like.”

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