Overnight 1-2 for Citroen

Overnight 1-2 for CitroenFrom Citroen Press [ 05/10/2007 ].
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The first leg of the 2007 Rally Catalunya ended this evening in Salou with Citroën C4 WRCs holding first and second places. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena top the provisional leaderboard, while Dani Sordo and Marc Martí follow in second spot in their identical machine, just behind their team-mates.

 

 

With six stages totalling 148km on the menu, the opening day of the 2007 World Rally
Championship's twelfth round was the longest of the weekend. The first two tests, to the northeast
of the Port Aventura service park, were covered twice each, while the day concluded with two
other tests, this time to the northwest. Also, with the Spanish round reverting to its autumn slot, the
bad weather that moved in over the region came as no surprise.

In addition to making the stages extremely treacherous, the downpour that fell over the Costa
Daurada on Thursday evening led the organisers to cancel the ceremonial start. The sun was
shining, however, as the competitors left the service park early this morning, but the conditions
caused Citroën Sport to think long and hard about their tyre choice. With so much water still
lingering, both C4 WRCs finally went out on soft compound BFGoodrich tyres. The little amount of
grip available prompted the team's two crews to start off cautiously, but they then upped their pace
on SS2 to ease into first and second places, with Sébastien ahead of Dani.

The tyre call for the second loop of stages proved complex again. Believing the conditions to be
drier, Dani and Marc switched to a harder compound than their team-mates. Both Citroën C4 WRC
drivers profited from the loop, however, to pull further clear of their rivals, while Seb and Dani
traded positions at the top of the leaderboard.

The forecast of showers for the end of the afternoon by Météo France Sports, one of Citroën
Sport's technical partners, added a further complication to the French team's deliberations as they
considered which tyres to fit for the final loop of what turned out to be a very difficult day. The
drivers take up the story in their own words…

"Our choice wasn't ideal for the rain on SS6," explained Sébastien Loeb. "We managed to live with
it, though, and even succeeded in pulling out a useful gap over Marcus Grönholm. It's been a
dramatic opening day but the car and the team ensured we came through it unscathed. It's looking
very encouraging at the moment, but there's still a long way to go."

"It was a positive day for us, too," echoed Dani Sordo. "The last stage was really very difficult but
I'm pleased to say that we succeeded in pulling even further clear of Marcus. Although it's not the
most important thing this weekend, it was nice to lead a World Championship rally for the first time
in my career… and on home soil, too. That was something special but, as I say, the main thing is
to be ahead of Grönholm on Sunday afternoon."

After the day's stressful moments, a sense of relief could be read on Guy Fréquelin's face: "It's
been a taxing day but it's behind us now. Everyone in the Citroën team did a remarkable job to
keep clear of all the potential pitfalls and to enable us to figure in first and second places this
evening. Both crews put in superb runs and showed how competitive the C4 is. They are currently
ahead of Marcus Grönholm which is a good thing in terms of the fight for the championship. I still
prefer to be cautious, though, because we're not even halfway into the event yet."