by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 48
Citroen: the rally to forget Take a lesson from the world champions. Make sure all the disasters happen at the same event, not spread progressively over the season... Citroen went to Sardinia full of hope and confidence that they would gain a record seventh successive World Rally win but it did not quite happen that way. All they found was bad luck, bad judgement, bro- ken driving regulations, confused explana- tions and a general disaster. It seemed a good idea for Dani Sordo to incur a first day time penalty so as to force Mikko Hirvonen to run in front of him on the road: "We had a damper problem" he said, uncon- vincingly. He then had a real damper prob- lem when his car impacted a rock thrown on to the road by Hirvonen’’s passing car! At service, the damage was found to be more extensive and they had to leave service with repair work unfinished. And by mistake they forgot to put a second spare wheel in the car so the co-driver had to run back for it. The series of misfortunes had begun. Loeb was struggling as he drove the first car on the road, even though he was lying second overall. The team suggested he should slow down, lose time, and drop back some places in the results so he would run further down the field in the second day running order – but it wasn’t so simple. When you run first car on the road, you don’t control the race. The drivers behind are in control. The Citroen managers guessed that both Fords would also play tactics, and they took a gamble that a 20 second delay on a stage should serve their purpose. They did not know that Hirvonen was about to get confused regarding Ford’s tactics, and when Ford saw this had happened, they cancelled plans to hold Latvala back and speeded him up instead. Citroen’s tactic was thus only partially suc- cessful. Loeb only dropped back one place, behind Hirvonen – second place down to third, hardly worth the effort and the cost of 20 seconds. Day 2 brought more dramas for Citroen, especially when Sebastian Loeb checked into the start of Stage 9 one minute late, in the confusion caused by brake problems on the previous stage. But Loeb had one shining moment. In a lightning manoeuvre, he and co-driver Daniel Elena changed a flat tyre in only a minute or so, regaining the road and neatly making the track more dusty for the next driver along, Petter Solberg’s Xsara, a car which he was then trying to beat! Loeb finished Day 2 just 2.2 seconds behind Solberg. But Sordo was in more difficulty, suffering turbocharger troubles which cost a time control penalty and delays on stages. And meanwhile the Citroen Junior cars of Ogier and Rautenbach, were having suspension troubles and Novikov had his gearshift lever break off in his hand ... On the final morning there was a lot of ear- ly morning dust and the two Fords, espe- cially Latvala, enjoyed clearer conditions as Loeb, now running in a theoretically ideal fourth place on the road, ate Petter’s dust. Day 3 was a day when running early was better than running later. Getting back up to the podium was not going to be easy for Sebastien at all, though in windier condi- tions later in the morning he climbed back up to third. On the final morning Sordo had a repeat of his turbo problem, while Ogier’s car had been too badly damaged to be repairable at service and did not restart at all. Then the decision was taken to withdraw Rautenbach’s entry at the final series. "Elec- trical trouble" was the unconvincing reason – in reality it was a happy chance to elevate Sordo in the manufacturer team finishing order and gain one extra World Champion- ship point. The pantomime however had not finished. The two-minute penalty imposed on Loeb (because co-driver Elena undid his seat- belts while the car was still moving) was really the final straw, even if the team were lucky that the penalty was no worse – three years ago his teammate, Dani Sordo, was excluded in Japan for breaking the same rule. Loeb’s great moment was thus denied him. That ultra-fast wheel change had cost him three minutes, not one. And, to make it worse, a special visitor to the event was Automobiles Citroen’s new CEO Jean-Marc Gales, who had come to see his first ever rally and hoped to share the team’s contin- ued glory. And what did he see amid all the dramas? A Xsara, which his company had built eight years ago, beating all the proud team’s new C4s. Learn from the experts – it is good to get all the bad news over in one rally!