Sébastien Loeb Shows Title Intentions

Sébastien Loeb Shows Title IntentionsFrom Citroen Press [ 07/09/2003 ].
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The Xsaras of Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, Colin McRae/Derek Ringer and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti returned to Perth for the Rally Australia finnish, lying second, fourth and fifth respectively. For its first participation in the antipodean event, Citroën obtained a fantastic team result and ends the event as joint leader of the Manufacturers' Championship. Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and the entire Versailles-Satory based team believed in a possible win for most of the event. Two stages from the finish, the Xsara resisted Petter Solberg's assaults and led with 1.3 sec margin over the Norwegian.

At the midday service, the Citroën crews chose to drive with hard compound tyres and as it started to rain the conditions changed radically. "The terrain became very slippery and very tricky," explained Sébastien Loeb. "As I was attacking to the maximum, we were already 4 seconds behind Petter at the first split time. I immediately understood it would be ‘mission impossible' to catch him up. I didn't want to take the risk to loose everything the team and us had achieved so far. I will have to wait a bit longer for my first win on gravel."

Team director Guy Fréquelin was delighted and congratulated the team. "We haven't got the right to be disappointed," said Citroën Sport's boss. "I wouldn't dare to hope for such a result, which is fully deserved. It didn't come from our competitor's weakness but from the fantastic job the team has done and also from our drivers' talent."

Colin McRae was also very satisfied : "First of all it's important to say that Sébastien has done a great rally on only his second outing here in Australia. On my side, I am happy with the way the rally ended up – we worked our way up in the leaderboard and even enjoyed a small fight with Carlos. This is a very good result for the team."

Carlos Sainz finished in fifth just 6.5 sec behind his Scottish team-mate. The Madrid-based driver held onto his second position in the Drivers' Championship and is concentrating on the upcoming events. "It's not really my result which makes me happy but more the team's one. We have done extremely well here before starting the series of tarmac events."

“We knew a good result here would help us for the end of the season. And that's what we did." said Guy Fréquelin. "We must keep our concentration for the coming rallies, but I'm sure we will work even harder with the extra motivation we have gained from our performance here."