On its first outing in competition, the Citroën DS3 WRC finished fourth in Rally Sweden thanks to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Their team-mates, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, came home sixth. The Citroën Total World Rally Team DS3 WRCs also scored a double in the Power Stage, the last stage in the event for which additional points were awarded.
One of the main difficulties of the rally was the ceaselessly changing road conditions, which had a major influence on the performance of the cars. On Friday, the fresh snow that fell before the start handicapped the crews that were first out on the road. Today it was the lack of wind that caused snow to be suspended in the air reducing the drivers’ visibility.
“It was very difficult,” said Julien Ingrassia.“We had a white veil in front of the bonnet. The snow remained suspended in the air and didn’t fall because there was no wind.”
“I had to lift off in some of the quicker sections just to be able to see,” added Ogier. “I preferred not to take any risks. With the road covered with a good layer of hard ice, Mikko Hirvonen could take advantage of the best possible conditions. Behind, it was difficult to find the right trajectory because of snow on the apexes.”
In the provisional top three at the arrival in Torntorp 2 (SS20), Ogier lost ground in Rämmen 2 (SS21) : “The car was sliding around at the rear. We hit a wall of snow and that blocked the air filter. At the end of the stage the engine wasn’t giving its full power.”
Ogier finished the rally in fourth place scoring three additional points thanks to his performance in the Power Stage that ended the event: “I’m pretty happy with the result on only my second outing in Rally Sweden. We’ve got a lot of positive conclusions to draw from this event. Despite the difficulties, we’ve shown that the Citroën DS3 WRC is quick. I can’t wait to race on gravel where the car looks like it’ll run well.”
Sébastien Loeb, alone in sixth place, finished the rally without any pressure: “As I had nothing to aim for, I just had to bring the car home. Even if the result isn’t in keeping with our expectations, we had to score some points in the opening round, and we took advantage of the Power Stage to add another two. Thanks to our sixth place we may have a good starting position in Rally Mexico!”
Petter Solberg and Kimi Räikkönen in Citroën DS3 WRCs prepared by Citroën Racing Technologies also reached the finish of the first rally of the season. The Norwegian came home fifth, and the Finn arrived back in Karlstad in eighth place after a performance that bodes well for the rest of the championship.
“For their first race, the Citroën DS3 WRCs proved both reliable and competitive throughout the weekend,” summed up Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal. “Before the start we knew that we weren’t favourites on this very specific surface. Let’s wait for the first stages on gravel to have a better idea of each one’s potential.”
The Citroën DS3 WRCs will leave their studded tyres behind to fly off to Mexico. The next round run on gravel above sea level will take place between 3rd – 6th March 2011.