05 Feb 09
A one-two finish for Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo on Rally Ireland was the best possible start to the season for the 2008 WRC title holding Citroen Total World Rally Team.
A maximum 18 points moves the French team ten clear of Ford in the manufacturers' competition, while Loeb heads his team-mate by two points in the drivers' standings.
With 11 rounds remaining there's still an awfully long way to go, but on the evidence so far, Citroen and Loeb are already plotting a course for manufacturers' title number four and drivers' title number six.
In the first of our post-event interviews this year, wrc.com spoke to Citroen Total director Olivier Quesnel to get his thoughts on the weekend's work.
The perfect start to the new season?
Yes. But this year we need to start like this. In this season there are only 12 rallies and only two on tarmac. Citroen obviously is not too bad on tarmac, and if we want to keep the Manufacturers' title we need the maximum points on this surface. The next event will be Norway and I'm not sure how we will do there. We are certainly not the favourites. We could be okay but I'm not sure. I prefer to get the maximum points now and then to be in a good position after Norway.
What was the toughest part of Rally Ireland for Citroen?
The weather was awful. I think this rally would be better in June of September. I'm not really sure about the idea of putting this rally on in January - anyway, in the end it wasn't so bad for us, but I'm not sure it was the best choice. The rally itself is quite nice, but the weather was too much. How can you imagine you have to put winter tyres on when it's only raining?!
The tyre options seemed okay, though?
For us it was a surprise because at the beginning of the rally we never thought we would use the winter tyres. When we saw the Ford with the winter tyres we though, What..? And then when we saw what happened with Latvala we said okay - we made a big mistake. We just didn't know we could use it.
Had you used the winter tyre in wet conditions before?
We made some practise but we never found the same weather, so we never tried those tyres.
Round two in Norway brings a completely different challenge. What would be a good result for Sebastien and Dani there?
To get to the end.
Yes. If they both finish the rally I will be really pleased.