28 Mar 08
Citroen’s Sebastien Loeb gave a passenger ride to Argentina’s most famous sportsman during Thursday’s pre-event shakedown.
Diego Maradona, who has links to Citroen, was invited by the team to ride with Loeb for one run through the 4.59km stage in the seat usually occupied by Loeb’s co-driver Daniel Elena.
During an international career that included 91 caps and 34 goals, Maradona played in four World Cup tournaments, leading the Argentina national team to its victory over West Germany in the 1986 World Cup. In 2000 he received the people’s choice FIFA player of the century award.
News of Maradona’s arrival in the service area spread quickly, and by the time he was strapped into Elena’s seat, hundreds of fans chanting his name surrounded the Citroen service area.
When Loeb’s C4 WRC returned to service after the run Maradona said he recognised something special in his driver: “It was fantastic. This guy makes it so easy to just enjoy the ride. I knew he was good, but now I know he’s fantastic. He made me feel comfortable and I had no fears knowing what he was doing. You can see even when he breathes he’s a real world champion - and when you look at his eyes you know he’s really good.”
“I think he had a good time,” said Loeb. “We couldn’t say too much because he doesn’t speak French and I don’t speak Spanish, but we communicated the best we could, and once we were on the stage it was a lot of fun.”