At the start of the 2012 World Rally Championship, it’s back to business as usual for the Citroën Total World Rally Team, with Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena winning Rallye Monte-Carlo for the sixth time. Additionally, the team scored a 1-2 finish in the power stage for additional points.
The 80th Rallye Monte-Carlo finished yesterday with victory for Loeb. The eight-time World Champions enjoyed a clean sweep as he and Elena also picked up the three bonus points awarded to the winner of the Power Stage.
Fourth overall in the rally, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (new signings for 2012 to replace Sébastien Ogier), also collected two points for their performance on the final stage. This gave Citroën Total World Rally Team the lead in the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
After four days’ racing, the final day of the Rallye Monte-Carlo was the shortest in the history of the World Championship: the eighteenth stage was only 5.16km between Ste Agnès and the Col de la Madone. The stage was completed in under 3m30s by the leading WRC cars.
At the stop control, Loeb and Elena were pleased to see they had recorded the fastest time, earning three additional points in the Drivers’ World Championship. “I decided to push because these points could make the difference in deciding who wins the title,” explained Sébastien Loeb. “Apart from the points, I’m happy to win this rally that means a lot to me. There were a lot of supporters along the roadside and I wanted to win for them.
“It’s a big gap to second, but I wouldn’t say this was an easy win. We had to deal with all sorts of conditions and my lead was largely built on better tire choices, which were mainly down to the work of Citroën Racing’s technical team and Michelin. We were able to choose between five types of tires and always managed to pick the right ones for the conditions.
“The Citroën DS3 WRC worked like a dream. I felt comfortable from the start of the rally and managed to get a good rhythm. It’s certainly a nice way to start the season…”
Second on the Power Stage, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen ended their first rally for the Citroën Total World Rally Team in fourth place overall. “It wasn’t the easiest rally for a first race in a new car, but I’m pleased with the result,” confirmed the Finn. “The two days of snow were particularly difficult. On tarmac, I was more comfortable and I was able to set some good times. I had to take it easy, avoid mistakes to focus on finishing to score some points. That's exactly what we did. I’m looking forward to racing in Sweden next.”
For his first rally in charge of Citroën Racing, Yves Matton praised the performance of the entire team: “It’s important to start the season on a positive note and great to win a rally as legendary as Monte-Carlo. One of the key factors was tire choice. The analysis by our engineers prior to the rally helped us make the right choices.”
The next WRC event will be held in Sweden on 9-12 February.