With new World Rally Car regulations introduced for 2011, the 2-liter turbo Citroën C4 WRC will end its career on the Rally Great Britain, the final round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship.
The C4 WRC, already part of rallying legend with 35 victories in 55 rallies, wants to go out on a high note. The Citroën Total World Rally Team crews of Sebastien Loeb/Daniel Elena and Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia will go flat out for victory.
The Welsh stages are both quick and technical and provide a real test for the team and crews. Changeable weather conditions can also add to the mix with the potential of rain, mud, fog and even ice and snow providing a truly unique atmosphere for the event.
Sebastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena, who won the world title in Rally France, will start the event under no pressure and are determined to put on a great display. "Whenever we start a rally, we do so with the intention of winning," said Loeb. "If I feel good and the conditions are favorable, there's no reason why I shouldn't go for a third win in a row in Wales."
The championship runner-up spot is still up for grabs. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who have held second place since their win in Rally Portugal, have 11 and 16 points respectively in hand over their rivals, Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg.
"We didn't think we'd be fighting for second place this season," admitted Ogier. "It's become our objective as the season's unfolded. We lost a few points in France and Spain, but we're still in front and a place on the podium will be enough to secure second place no matter where our two rivals finish."
Loeb had this to say about his last rally in the C4 WRC. "A racing car that evolves is a bit like a kid you see growing up. The C4 WRC's evolution was done in small steps on an on-going basis. Nothing fundamentally changed except for the decoration. But if you were to put me into the 2007 car today, I'd begin to ask myself if there wasn't a problem. If something sticks in my mind, it's the change to Pirellis in 2008. Their structure was very different to what we'd known before and we were forced to make in-depth modifications to the suspension on gravel."
Dani Sordo/Diego Vallejo and Kimi Raikkonen/Kaj Lindstrom will represent the Citroën Junior Team in their C4 WRC cars, with the aim of sealing third place in the manufacturers' championship behind the Citroën Total World Rally Team that has secured first place already.
Dani Sordo heads into the rally fifth in the championship, having taken five podiums from the last seven events, and the Spaniard is hoping for a strong finish to the season. "This is a particularly difficult rally, but I've managed to set some good times there in the past," he pointed out. "This year, I want to be right in the fight for victory."
Sordo has had two podiums from his last two outings in the Rally of Great Britain. "The weather conditions will play a big part," he added. "If the roads stay dry, this is going to be an extremely fast rally. If it rains though, the stages will rapidly turn into mud and it will become the most slippery event of the year. We need to get off to a good start, as I'm sure that the pace will be quick from the very beginning. Everyone wants to win the last rally of the year."
Having scored 21 points, Kimi Raikkonen is currently 10th in the World Championship following the ten rallies he has taken part in. The Finn will be back on gravel in Wales - a surface on which he scored points in Jordan, Turkey and Portugal.
"We knew that our first year would be a bit like this," Kimi pointed out. "Like any driver starting off in a new discipline as specialized as rallying, I've had my ups and downs. I imagine Wales will be no different. We're going to work hard during the recce because we need to ensure we set off at a decent pace and gradually reduce the gap to the front runners as the rally goes on."
The rally route has changed slightly since to last year. A new super-special stage (Cardiff Bay) will kick off the action on Thursday night. The first day is a repeat of 2009, but the second day returns to some older stages such as Radnor Forest, which was last used in 1999. On the final day, the Resolfen and Margam Park stages are also slightly modified.
Dani Sordo was also asked about his last rally in the Citroën C4 WRC: "It's a car that has played a huge part in rallying history. The Citroën Xsara WRC reached a very high level, but the C4 WRC has raised the bar further still. The Citroën team has done an extraordinary job and the results are the proof. The C4 WRC has won on every surface; I don't think there's a single rally where it hasn't triumphed at some point. I'll always have really good memories of the C4; it's a car that is competitive everywhere. The chassis, the roadholding, and the engine... everything has reached an exceptional level with constant progress and development. It's been a pleasure to drive it for the last four seasons and it's going to be a pleasure to drive it again in Great Britain."