Fifth Monte Carlo win for Loeb
- 28th January 2008, 9:01am
Sebastien Loeb and his Monaco-born co-driver Daniel Elena claimed their fifth Monte Carlo win for Citroen in today. Taking their prize at the finish ceremony in front of the Principality's palace this afternoon, the Citroen pair has carved out an indelible place in the record books of the world longest-standing and most prestigious rally. Meanwhile, after being forced to make profit from the SupeRally ruling to re-start this morning after their problem on Day 3, Dani Sordo and Marc Marti came 11th to earn a Manufacturers' point for Citroen.
The Citroen C4 WRC's second straight win over the legendary stages of the Monte Carlo Rally follows on from the three successes notched up by its predecessor, the Xsara WRC. "This result owes much to the talent of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. They put in a perfect run," said Olivier Quesnel after the finish. "Another win for the team on the WRC's particularly challenging curtain-raiser is a fitting reward for all the hard work put in by everyone at Citroen Sport."
Indeed, the team led from start to finish, staking an early claim in the Vercors Mountains on Thursday evening when the C4 WRC of Dani Sordo/Marc Marti emerged in the lead after SS1 before their team-mates took over in front after the following test. A series of five consecutive top-two stage times had many believing that the two Citroen crews were heading for a repeat of their one-two finish on this event last year, but Dani ultimately had to call on the SupeRally ruling to be able to continue after suffering a mechanical problem on SS11.
Sunday's action, which featured just 69.65km of stages, including two attempts at the infamous Col du Turini test, had the potential to cause some surprises but Seb and Dani remained perfectly focused. They didn't put the slightest foot wrong over the four 'true' stages before rounding off their weekend with two laps of the super-special in the Principality itself. The victory of Seb and Daniel sees them become the only crew to have won the Monte five times, putting them one win ahead of Walter Rohrl, Sandro Munari and Tommi Makinen.
At the harbour side finish in Monaco, on the podium and during interviews in the press office, the broad smiles on the faces of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena showed just how delighted they were: "More than the fact that this was our 37th WRC victory and our fifth Monte win, I think the most significant thing is the way we won this year," commented Seb. "Our C4 performed faultlessly throughout and the set-up we chose for the start proved excellent, which shows how well we worked upstream. The C4 and the Pirelli tyres also functioned well together on these asphalt stages which were often damp. It's always nice to start the season with a win, but I have no intention of getting carried away because there are some very difficult rallies to come."
Putting his woes behind him, Dani Sordo also concluded on a positive note: "We were the only ones who succeeded in staying with Sebastien's pace. Once again, our car was awesomely quick on asphalt and I was also pleased with the way our tyres performed. That was one of the unknown factors before the start. Last but not least, I'm glad to have picked up a Manufacturers' point for Citroen."
"It's immensely satisfying to have started my job as Director of Citroen Sport with a win on the Monte Carlo Rally. It gives us a solid footing in both championships," concluded Olivier Quesnel. "I remain lucid, however, because the team is often successful on sealed surfaces. A totally different challenge awaits us in Sweden. Our rivals will doubtlessly be very strong in the slippery conditions and the fight promises to be more open.
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