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Old 24-01-2006, 03:58 PM   #1
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Default Rallye de Monte Carlo

With 10 stage victories from the 16 that were run, Sébastien Loeb and his Monegasque co-driver Daniel Elena were once again quickest on the roads around Monte Carlo – as they have been for the last five years. After a sensational start to the rally, which seemed set to propel the reigning World Champions to a fourth consecutive Monte Carlo victory, they were forced to fight tooth and nail for a second place that was spectacularly taken in the last metres of the final stage.

«Of course I’m very disappointed to have made the mistake on Friday that dropped us down to eighth overall – especially for the team, » commented Seb. «I can only blame myself. On the other hand, I can honestly say that from the inside of the car this rally turned into a thrilling chase ; the sort of battle that I really like. It showed us that our Xsara can more than stand up to the opposition, and that my new team is working really well. It’s a very good sign for the future... »

Daniel Elena summed up the closing stages with characteristic humour. « We knew that Manfred Stohl, on ‘dry’ tyres, could come back at us and we had no information about Toni Gardemeister, as his car was not supplying split times. The only solution was to put the pedal to the metal ! I am going to remember that downhill section on Turini for a very long time ! Driving on dry roads with snow tyres, I was nearly seasick as the car was sliding so much… »

After an impressive third day, crowned by an excellent fifth-fastest time on the fearsome ‘Col de Braus’ (SS16), Xevi Pons has brought his team three precious manufacturers’ points. « Reaching this objective was one of the reasons why I wanted to get to the finish at all costs, on a rally that has been incredibly difficult, » he said. « For the first time today, I was pleased with my driving on ice with ‘slick’ tyres. I’ve been amazed by Seb’s achievement, and I know that I will be able to learn a lot from him. Finally, I’d like to congratulate Dani Sordo, my friend and old rival in the Spanish Championship, on an excellent World Rally Car debut. »

Dani Sordo was slightly disappointed not to be able to take seventh place from Mikko Hirvonen, because of a hydraulic problem on SS18. But he soon found plenty of reasons to be cheerful. « My co-driver Marc Marti has been on this rally six times and this is the most complicated one he has seen, » said Dani. « To be at the end of the rally with a second-fastest time in our pockets (SS10), one championship point, and an intact car is fantastic. Step by step I think I’ve learnt a lot since Friday and I can’t wait to get to Sweden now to learn some more. »

What a baptism of fire ! » said a visibly delighted team boss Marc Van Dalen. « We’ve experienced the worst road conditions in years, some difficult tyre choices from the start, and the race to re-prepare Seb’s car on Friday night – which had to be perfect in order for him to carry out the recovery drive he had planned. Then it all went down to the wire on the last stage… Seb has been astonishing, Xevi has brought us three points, and Dani has made a remarkable start. The whole team has been as motivated and enthusiastic as our drivers and co-drivers. The collaboration between our own people and those helping us from Citroën Sport has been instant and perfect. I hope that our work here at Kronos has been worthy of the faith Guy Fréquelin placed in us and the expectations of our partners. And I also hope that we keep going down this road… »

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