Four-in-a-row for Loeb, Elena and CitroŽn
Sťbastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the CitroŽn Total World Rally Team extended their unbeaten run since the start of the 2009 World Rally Championship by securing their fourth win from four Ė and their 51st world class success Ė today in Portugal. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti were also on form in the Algarve where they notched up their second podium finish of the year to put CitroŽn further clear at the top of the provisional Manufacturersí standings.

Following two relatively long legs on Friday and Saturday, the third and final day of the 2009 Rally de Portugal was much shorter and featured two visits to a loop of two stages near Loulť. It then finished in the same way as the event had started, with the closing super-special in the Estadio Algarve.

In spite of the handicap of running first on the road, Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena kicked off Sundayís action with two fastest times: "We were in the same situation as we had been on Day 1. Even so, despite having to sweep a clearer line through the dust for Mikko [Hirvonen], we were a little bit faster than him. Yesterday, when he was having to do all the roadsweeping, we were much quicker. If you take all that into account, it suggests that we had the edge in identical conditions. Thatís a very promising pointer for the next few rallies, but weíve still got the job in hand to finish off firstÖ"

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti had to contend with the problem of hanging dust but were still third: "Today isnít much fun for us because weíve got little to gain and potentially everything to lose! Even with the cars starting every two minutes, the dust just isnít clearing. We also suffered from dust getting in our C4 after the sill was slightly damaged by a stone. The sun was very low this morning, too, so we really werenít able to see much and I took special care not to make a mistakeÖ"

After the 30-minute service halt, the two CitroŽn C4 WRC crews returned to the undulating Algarve hills for a second attempt at the same two stages. The overriding aim of Sťbastien Loeb and Dani Sordo was to hold on to their respective positions, which saw them drive defensively, even if that meant dropping a handful of seconds. The two CitroŽn drivers were then the stars of the show on the final test in front of an enthusiastic, packed-house crowd at the Estadio Algarve where Sťbastien and Dani respectively got the better of Mikko Hirvonen and Petter Solberg.

"Todayís result takes our score to four wins from four rounds, which is the best start to a season we have ever made," remarked Sťbastien Loeb after the podium ceremony. "As ever, it wasnít an easy weekend. We made a small error on Day 1 which forced us to push hard to make up for lost ground, but the second leg went perfectly for us and we were able to control from in front this morning. Itís good that Ford chose not to play a tactical game on Friday afternoon. We preferred to play it straight on Saturday, too, and itís nice to have won that way."

Dani Sordo finished in third place and was happy to have mixed it with the front-runners over the three-day event: "As soon as it became clear that I wouldnít be able to catch Mikko today, I decided not to take any risks. I felt very comfortable with my car throughout the rally, and thatís a good omen for the rounds which come next."


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