Loeb & Citroen Ready for AU Debut

From Citroen Press [ 28/10/2002 ].
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Citroen's Sebastian Loeb, making both a personal debut in the Telstra Rally Australia and providing Australian motorsport fans with their first opportunity to see the Citroen Xsara WRC, the car that has shocked other World Rally Championship teams with its rally-winning competitiveness in its first season, has declared himself ready for this week's event after two days of testing deep in the forests of Western Australia. It has rained in Australia today after a clear 32 degree day on the weekend, the weahter is due to increase to 28 degrees again before a few showers again on Friday and sun on Saturday / Sunday and around 25deg just to mix the challenge up.

"I was worried about just what it would be like to drive in Australia," said the talented Frenchman after the test session. "At first I found it difficult to drive on the Australian surface, I was so slow because it was just so slippery. We have adjusted the Citroen Xsara WRC's suspension to suit Australia and this has made a big difference. It is a real challenge, but I love the roads here in Australia. I must drive very accurately, staying in the line is very important. If I get out of the right line it can go very wrong."

Sebastian had an opportunity to try both ends of the weather spectrum, with the first day hot and dry, with plenty of the thick dust that Australia is infamous for, but on the second day a heavy downpour of rain, killed the dust, but made conditions even harder.

"When the rain came it go even more slippery, even more of challenge" Loeb said. "But this is very useful, as I know what to expect whether it is dry or wet."

Loeb and the Citroen Xsara WRC have stunned rally audiences and teams alike with their straight of the box competitiveness and reliability. Loeb won the German round of the World Rally Championship with a fight right to the line with constant pressure from the best rally drivers in the world revealing Loeb's maturity. The Citroen Xsara WRC demonstrated both its performance and reliability on the notoriously tough Safari rally, where Citroen not only was the only team to finish the event with the same number of cars it started with, it also claimed a podium finish.

So where does Sebastian Loeb hope to finish in the Telstra Rally Australia?

"It depends on our progress of preparing the Citroen Xsara WRC," says Loeb. "We are up against the best cars and drivers on gravel, but I think a top ten finish is something we can achieve."