The Citroën C4 WRCs score another triple!
Rally Portugal (27-30 May 2010) – Day 3

For the second time this season after Rally Mexico, Citroën scored a triple in a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Behind Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, the two Citroën Total World Rally Team crews completed the podium. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena finished second increasing their lead in the Drivers’ Championship. Thanks to their third place Dani Sordo and Marc Marti helped the team open up a gap over its rivals in the Manufacturers’ title chase.

The third stage of Rally Portugal was much shorter than those of the first two days, but its outcome was much less certain. At dawn, Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb left the service park separated by only 21.1s. Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal, gave the Citroën drivers clear instructions: “They can fight for victory but they have to stay on the road!”

The day consisted of a loop of two stages to be covered twice and the rally finished with a second run through the super special in the Algarve Stadium. Sébastien Loeb was second on the road and he knew that he had to pull back the maximum number of seconds in the first run. He set the fastest times in SS14 and 15, and the six-time world champion returned to the service park having pared down the gap to 11 seconds! “We had a good run this morning but it’ll be difficult to win the race,” he acknowledged. “Even though he has to sweep the road, Sébastien is going very quickly and he isn’t making any mistakes. We’re still in with a chance of snatching victory, and as long as that’s the case we’ll continue to push.”

Dani Sordo was fourth at the start of the third leg and he got back up into third after the first two stages of the day: “I didn’t feel at ease in the first stage as there was a lot of dust hanging in the air. In the next one I was able to push hard and I felt good at the wheel. The gap to Petter Solberg is very small and I’ve got to keep up the same pace to score my first podium finish of the season,” said the Spaniard in the service park at midday.

Loeb was again quickest on the second passage through the two gravel stages, but he did not manage to make enough in-roads into Ogier’s lead to go for victory, so he just made sure he held on to second place in the super special: “It was a great, evenly-matched fight. We lost a lot of time sweeping the road on the first day. We never gave up pushing to claw back the time lost but we lacked that little bit of extra speed. In hindsight, I think that my driving wasn’t aggressive enough. Whatever the case, it was the quickest driver who won today, and our second place is a very positive result as we now have a 38-point lead in the Drivers’ Championship.”

Thanks to Dani Sordo’s third place, Citroën also bagged the full total of points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, and the gap to the second-placed manufacturer has stretched from 5 to 26 points. “I’m proud to give this result to the team,” said a breathless Sordo after the finish. “We could have been a bit closer to the two Sébastiens, were it not for a few minor problems, but the most important thing was to score the maximum number of points for Citroën. I’m happy to have finished the first half-season on a high note and I can’t wait to race in the rallies on asphalt.

Frédéric Banzet, director of the Citroën make, was delighted to see the C4 WRCs monopolising the podium : “I shared Olivier Quesnel’s choice which was a sporting one. We let two great drivers battle for victory and we’ve scored a magnificent result. Sébastien Ogier and the Citroën Junior Team deserved to win a rally after helping the Citroën Total World Rally Team to score victories in other circumstances. Sébastien Loeb’s and Dani Sordo’s second and third places have allowed Citroën to open up a cushion in the Manufacturers’ World Championship so the outcome is very positive.”

Provisional overall general classification
1. Ogier / Ingrassia Citroën C4 3h51’16’’1
2. Loeb / Elena Citroën C4 +7’’9
3. Sordo / Marti Citroën C4 +1’17’’6
4. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus +1’32’’0
5. P. Solberg / Mills Citroën C4 +1’35’’7
6. Wilson / Martin Ford Focus +7’10’’1
7. Ostberg / Andersson Subaru Impreza +7’28’’3
8. Villagra / Perez Companc Ford Focus +10’36’’1
9. Al Qassimi / Orr Ford Focus +10’55’’8
10. Raikkonen / Lindstrom Citroën C4 +11’34’’3

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