Citroën out for a hat trick in Portugal
Rally Portugal (27-30 May 2010) – Presentation

Thanks to their victories in 2007 and 2009, Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the Citroën C4 WRC are unbeaten in Rally Portugal. On their third outing in this event they are determined to score a hat trick, which will help them to extend their lead in the Drivers’ World Championship. In the Manufacturers’ title chase, the Citroën Total World Rally Team has a 5-point lead over its nearest rival. More than ever, the support of Dani Sordo and Marc Marti will be crucial to make the break before the summer interlude.

Rally Portugal was one of the great events in the World Championship up till 2001. It was reinstated on the calendar four years ago. The rally, now based in the Algarve, enjoys the type of popularity common to south European events. “We love the enthusiasm of the spectators,” smiles Sébastien Loeb. “The region is very pleasant; it’s usually fine and you really feel the people’s love of rallying. What more can you ask for?”

The six-time world champion has won the event on his two participations and he has but a single aim: score his fifty-eight career victory. “I like this rally very much but it’s not all that easy,” explains Seb. “Since the start of the season in each event the stages have had a lot of overcrests; those little humps that prevent us from reading the corners that lie just behind. Portugal will be the pits in this area! Apart from that you can’t say that the rally is a very difficult one. It’s a kind of digest of everything that you’ll find on gravel – wide quick sections, others that are slow and twisty.”

Thanks to his three victories and two podium finishes in five rallies Loeb has a comfortable lead in the world championship. Although he scored his worst result of the season in New Zealand - third (!) – he’s drawn positive conclusions from his trip to the Antipodes. “We arrived in Auckland with a forty-point lead over Petter Solberg and we came home with thirty-six points in hand over Jari-Matti Latvala. Four points lost with one less rally to go is a pretty good operation. This season there are six drivers capable of winning each event. Finishing among the front-runners is good for us for the moment, but it’s not the time to relax.”

For Dani Sordo, Rally Portugal will be another home event: “With Mexico and Spain, it’s a rather special rally for me. The spectators cheer us on more than elsewhere as we’re defending the colours of the Iberian Peninsula! But this doesn’t change the way I’m preparing for the event. I know Citroën is counting on me to score the maximum number of points towards the Manufacturers’’ Championship. As usual, I’m starting the rally with the aim of finishing on the podium. I came third in my first two outings here; I’d be happy to do just as well this year!”

For this rally, the Citroën Total World Rally Team C4 WRCs will carry the colours of the road safety campaign, Make roads safe, set up by the FIA and backed by Citroën Racing and its crews. Three questions to Frédéric Banzet

Citroën general manager
After the first five rallies of the season, how would you describe the performance of Citroën and its drivers?
“Thanks to their three victories, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are leading the Drivers’ World Championship while Citroën is first in the manufacturers’ one, so it’s all very positive. Even though we didn’t win, I found the battle in the New Zealand rally was very exciting to follow. This season is very indecisive and above all, we must never let up. We’ve only got a five-point lead in the manufacturers’ championship so that shows how close our battle is with our rival. I’d like to say bravo to Dani Sordo, Sébastien Ogier’s progress and Kimi Raïkkönen’s courage. Our four crews are really grandstanding the Citroën colours.”

Citroën’s involvement in the WRC seems to be pretty solid. Why?
« Throughout its history the make’s been involved in road-going sporting adventures. Today, rallying is part of Citroën’s DNA and the WRC is the pinnacle of this sport. It’s run on a worldwide basis in the best sense of the word, and it’s in phase with our image. For an innovative manufacturer like Citroën involved in on-going research for new technologies, rallying is an ideal showcase. Each of our victories all over the world demonstrates the values of creative technology.”

You will be present at the Portuguese Rally? What does this event represent for Citroën?
“First and foremost, it is an important commercial market as Citroën is among the leaders in terms of private vehicle sales and leads the utility vehicle section. Our volume of sales for private vehicles has gone up by more than 19% from the start of the year to the end of April. The Portuguese Rally is one of the historic events in the world championship. Far from hanging on to the past, the organizers are doing a great job in terms of promotion. Everything’s being done for the spectators beginning with the super special in the Algarve stadium. Citroën, its branches and its partners are taking advantage of this event to put on public relations operations. We’ll have a lot of people supporting the team and its drivers next weekend!”

Rally Portugal (round 6/13) (27 – 30 May)
Surface: gravel
Where: Vilamoura
Practical info: The service park is opposite the Estadio Algarve eight kilometres from Faro. The PC and Media Centre are in the Estadio Algarve. There is a one-hour time difference between Portugal (GMT + 1) and France (GMT + 2). At 12h00 in Faro, it is 13h00 in Paris. On the first day of the rally, Thursday 27 May, sunrise is at 6h15 and sunset at 20h42. In May, the average temperature is 24°C. The local currency is the euro.
Technical info: The engines used in Portugal have already been used in Mexico and Turkey. The spare parts (gearboxes, differentials, front and rear cradles, steering boxes and turbos) are shared with Rally Finland.
Tyres: 42 Pirelli Scorpion WRC Hard tyres will be given to each crew including six for the shakedown.
Reconnaissance: It is programmed for Tuesday 25 May from 8h00tp 20h00 and Wednesday 26 May from 8h00 to 18h00 with two passages maximum through each stage.
Shakedown: Thursday 27 May between 8h00 and 12h00 in Vale de Judeu on a 5,03 kilometer stage situated 12,76 km from the service park.
Press Conférence: Thursday 27 May at 13h30 in the Media Centre.
Start: Thursday 27 May in the Estadio Algarve at 19h35.
Route: 1223,07 km long, including 355,32 times kms. 18 stages (9 différent).
Podium: Sunday 30 May at 14h45.
Final Press Conférence: Sunday 30 May at 15h30 in the Media Centre.

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