March 27, 2006 Citroen may not be officially competing in this year’s World Rally Championship but it’s hard to tell. Wearing Kronos Total Citroen colours, Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc Marti completed a faultless and trouble-free third day of the Catalunya Rally in order to give Citroen a 1-2 win in Spain and extend Citroen and Loeb’s leads in both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ title chases for the 2006 World Rally Championship. It was the reigning World Champions’ second consecutive win in Spain, and the 22nd of their joint career. This puts Loeb just four wins away from Carlos Sainz’s record of 26 victories, while Daniel Elena is just two wins away from the co-drivers’ record of 24 wins, held by Luis Moya. Loeb and Elena have now extended their 2006 championship lead to nine points, while the Xsara chalks up its 26th triumph.
“It’s been an excellent end to a what’s not been an easy weekend, with a win for me, second for Dani and a one-two for Kronos,” concluded a happy Seb at the finish. “The fight with Marcus Grönholm at the start of the rally was a close one. After the team solved a few small brake problems and adjusted my set-up, I could see that the Citroen-BFGoodrich package is still at the top on asphalt. I’m very happy to win a rally which I enjoy so much for the second time. I’d like it even more if we could solve the problem of corner-cutting: I feel for my car when I have to throw it into those holes. From a driver’s point of view, it’s a shame to have to change down to third gear for a corner you could take in fifth if you kept all four wheels on the asphalt.”
Having won the Junior World Rally Championship event and title at the wheel of a Citroen C2 in Spain last year, Dani Sordo was competing on his fourth rally in a World Rally Car – for the first time on asphalt. The young Spaniard passed a difficult exam with flying colours. He set a top-three time on 10 out of 16 stages, and took his first fastest stage time at the wheel of a World Rally Car. Today he protected the advantage he had built up over the preceding two legs, in order to demonstrate another facet of his prodigious talent.
“I’m too, too happy for words!” enthused the Spaniard at the finish, with all the exuberance of his 22 years. “It’s fantastic to be second behind Seb, at home here in Spain. The car has been fantastic and the team has been faultless. I’d like to thank them, along with all my sponsors and supporters, for giving me this unforgettable moment!”
“This one-two is another notable chapter in the history of Kronos,” said a delighted team boss Marc Van Dalen. “I’m very grateful to Seb, Daniel, Dani and Marc for helping take us to another level. I’d like to dedicate this result to everybody who got together to create our 2006 project: Citroën Sport, BFGoodrich and naturally all of our partners. The fact that our customer version of the Xsara driven by Dani is on the podium alongside our Manufacturer 1 version driven by Seb gives me a great deal of pleasure for Kronos Racing. Let’s not forget the excellent rally from Xevi Pons, who also could have been on the podium had he not fallen victim to an off-road excursion. I know we can count on him for the rallies to come, especially Corsica. It’s another rally where once more we will be aiming to fight at the front.”
1. S. Loeb/D. Elena (Citroën Xsara) 3 h 22 min 01,7 s 2. D. Sordo/M. Martí (Citroën Xsara) + 48,2 s 3. M. Grönholm/T. Rautiainen (Ford Focus) + 1 min 45,8 s 4. A. Bengué/C. Escudero (Peugeot 307) + 2 min 01,9 s 5. J. Kopeck_/F. Schovánek (_koda Fabia) + 2 min 57,2 s 6. F. Duval/P. Pivato (_koda Fabia) + 3 min 37,8 s 7. P. Solberg/Ph. Mills (Subaru Impreza) + 3 min 48,2 s 8. S. Sarrazin/S. Prévot (Subaru Impreza) + 4 min 36,4 s 9. M. Hirvonen/J. Lehtinen (Ford Focus) + 5 min 01,6 s 10. G. Panizzi/H. Panizzi (_koda Fabia) + 5 min 04,4 s …
FIA World Rally Championship standings for Manufacturers after round 4
1. Kronos Total Citroën WRT, 44 pts – 2. BP Ford WRT, 42 pts - 3. Subaru WRT, 31 pts – 4. OMV Peugeot Norway, 21 pts – 5. Stobart VK/M-Sport Ford RT, 10 pts - 6. Red Bull-_koda, 8 pts.
FIA World Rally Championship standings for Drivers after round 4
1. S. Loeb (F), 36 pts - 2. M. Grönholm (FIN), 27 pts – 3. D. Sordo (E), 14 pts – 4. M. Stohl (A),11 pts - 5. P. Solberg (N), 10 pts – 6. T. Gardemeister (FIN), 6 pts – 7. D. Carlsson (S), 6 pts - 8. G Galli (I), 5 pts – 9. A. Bengué (F), 5 pts – 10. H. Solberg (N), 5 pts - 10. S. Sarrazin (F), 5 pts – 11. Ch. Atkinson (AUS), 5 pts – 12. J. Kopeck_ (CZ), 4 pts – 13. Th. Rådström (S), 4 pts – 13. G. MacHale (IRL), 3 pts – 14. F. Duval (B), 3 pts – 15. K. Katajamäki (FIN), 3 pts – 16. M. Hirvonen (FIN), 2 pts - 17. X. Pons (E), 2 pts – 18. G. Panizzi (F), 1 pt.