28 Feb 08
Sebastien Loeb’s preparations for this weekend’s Rally Mexico were interrupted this morning when the engine in his Citroen C4 WRC failed on the 15km journey to the pre-event shakedown test.
The Citroen team recovered the defending champions C4 to the service area in Leon and decided to replace the engine instead of attempting to repair it.
Loeb was unable to explain the exact cause of the failure. “It just stopped,” he said. “As we drove to shakedown it was clear something was wrong, so I tried to turn around and return to the service area but the engine stopped and that was that.”
The engine swap was completed by 1130hrs, which gave Sebastien the opportunity to take part in the last 30 minutes of the four hour session.
WRC manufacturer teams are limited to five engines per car for the 2008 season and the FIA stipulates five pairs of rallies which must use the same engine. Additionally, teams must submit their own list of rallies intended to be run with the same engine. This system effectively means that each engine is used for three ‘linked’ rallies.
Regulations permit engine changes in the case of failure between scrutineering and the start of a rally, but a five minute penalty is applied if this swap takes place during the second or third ‘linked’ event.
The engine that failed in Loeb’s car was a brand new unit; a replacement for the one which was damaged in his crash on the previous round in Sweden. Regulations state that engines may be swapped without penalty on the first linked rally.