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Rally and Endurance

Tuesday 16th August 2011

THE CITRO?N DS3 WRC FACES ITS FIRST TEST ON TARMAC

For the first time in the history of the World Rally Championship, Citroën has achieved the feat of winning seven events in a row. The Citroën DS3 WRC, unbeaten on gravel, now faces a new challenge on Tarmac in Germany. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who have never lost in Trier, start the ninth round as favourites. In their wake, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will also be out to maintain Citroën Racing’s supremacy.

After starting the 2011 season on snow followed by a series of seven victories on gravel, the Citroën DS3 WRCs will make their competition debut on Tarmac in the ‘Rallye Deutschland’.

Since the German event became part of the Rally World Championship in 2002, Citroën, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have never been beaten and have run up a string of eight victories.

Having won the last seven rallies this season, Citroën has also pulled out a lead of 65 points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship classification. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena who emerged victorious in Rally Finland at the end of July, lead the Drivers/Co-drivers rankings by 27 points. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are currently lying third, 31 points behind their team-mates.

“Some Tarmac at last,” smiles Sébastien Loeb, who has been dominant on this surface for more than five years. “I know that everybody will be gunning for me in Germany. We’ve never been beaten on these roads but the winning streak has to come to an end one day. It’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t this time out!”

“None of the sectors are alike”, continues the driver from Alsace. “There are three very distinct parts with the military camp, the vines and the country roads. Generally speaking, the stages are very quick and demanding. We’re up against a real challenge. It’s vital to have good notes and to be in perfect sync with your co-driver to win.“

Sébastien Ogier has less experience than his team-mate and will start only his third Rally Germany, his second at the wheel of a WRC car. “It’s not a typical rally, with a lot of differences from one stage to the next,” underlines the Frenchman. “I like certain sections more than others. Although I was on the podium last year, I wasn’t able to match the pace of the winners. This year, we’re determined to show that we’ve improved.”

During testing, the former Junior World Champion was able to get a feel for the handling of his Citroën DS3 WRC: “The car felt good but racing and testing are two very different things. We have to score more points than the current leader even if we know that he has racked up a remarkable string of results in Germany! In any case, it’s not going to be an easy rally.”

The Citroën Total World Rally Team could also set another record in the ADAC Rally Germany. Another win would make Citroën the manufacturer with the highest number of victories in the World Championship (77 before this event).

Three questions to Sébastien Loeb

Has your victory in Finland changed your approach to the end of the season?

“There are still five events left to run and a lot of points are up for grabs. My win in Finland was one of the greatest of my career. My aim was not to lose too many points on the difficult terrain, and to stay in the lead of the world championship heading into the first event on Tarmac. I suppose you could say that we achieved that objective! Overall, it was a pretty good result, but it hasn’t modified our strategy for the end of the season. We still have to score as many points as possible in each rally.”

You’re unbeaten in Germany so this makes you the hot favourite, doesn’t it?

“The competition is getting stronger and stronger. Despite all this I’m feeling pretty confident. I love Rally Germany. It’s a very special event for me. My fans have always given me fantastic backing and it’s here that I scored my first world championship victory. The Citroën DS3 WRC was very quick during testing, and tarmac is a surface on which we’ve enjoyed a lot of success.”

What did you feel during testing in the DS3 WRC?

“In relation to what we experienced before, the Citroën DS3 WRC is a bit more reactive. Its handling and balance are very good. The central self-adjusting differential has been banned by the new regulations, but the car runs very well without the help of electronics. The Michelin tyres are different to the ones we had in previous years. We ran through a wide range of setups to find the right ones. We know our rivals have also done a lot of work, but we’re ready for them!”
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