Monte-Carlo ushers in a new era

The 2013 World Rally Championship kicks off at the legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo in a season that promises many significant changes. Among the four Citroën DS3 WRCs entered in the rally, three will be driven by former winners of the event (Loeb, Hirvonen and Bouffier).

Leading the way, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will be looking for a seventh win here in the no.1 DS3 WRC. Nominated to score points for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, the nine-time World Champions will line up alongside Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, who begin the season with their sights set on claiming the Drivers’ title. The DS3 WRC of the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT will be driven by Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio on their return to the Citroën Racing family.

Less than ten weeks after the end of the 2012 season, the FIA World Rally Championship is already back. Like last year, this year’s eagerly anticipated championship gets underway at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Next Wednesday, competitors will set off from Valence on three stages held on roads through the Ardèche, the Haute-Loire and the Drôme departments. Although it is still a little early for weather forecasts, ice and snow are likely to feature in the rally, making tyre choice a complicated affair. The crews left standing after the first two days will head south on Friday, arriving in Monaco in the evening. The final leg will be disputed in the hills above Monaco, with three runs on the famous Col du Turini. These four long days of racing will provide some 465km of timed stages, which should be more than enough to separate the men from the boys!

Just ten years after their first win in the Principality, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are set to begin their ‘testimonial’ year with one of their favourite rallies. “In the end, the end of last season felt pretty normal, since I knew we would be competing in the first two rallies in 2013,” commented Sébastien Loeb. “We therefore prepared as usual, with some test sessions which enabled us to test out the new range of Michelin tyres. Given that we have won six out the last seven times we have competed here, it is difficult to imagine achieving any other result than first place!”

In the second DS3 WRC nominated by Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team to score points, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen begin the season with clear ambitions. Winners of the rally in 2010, the Finns would dearly love to repeat the feat now that the event is back on the WRC calendar. “The team wants to defend both world titles and they are counting on me for the Drivers’ title. I feel ready to take on this responsibility. In fact, I have never felt so motivated at the start of a season,” confirmed Mikko. “However, I don’t intend to change my approach to the rallies. As they say, more haste, less speed… I feel very confident in the DS3 WRC, but this is not the only factor that matters if you want to win in Monte-Carlo. You have to make the right – or the wrong – tyres choices, push at the right time and know when to let a few seconds go in some sections. The team has an enormous amount of experience on these roads and I think that we are very well placed to start the year with a good result.”

Nominated to score points for the works team when Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are not competing, Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio will begin the season in the DS3 WRC reserved for the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total World Rally Team. Second here in 2007 and 2012, Dani is just as excited as his team-mates about the first rally of his racing programme this year: “I couldn‘t be happier to be back in a car capable of winning rallies. I was pleased to get back in the DS3 during testing and now I can’t wait to start competing in it. I am starting the year in relaxed mood, determined to win my first rally as soon as possible. It’s always difficult to make predictions for Monte-Carlo, but it is a rally where I feel comfortable. So I’ve got high hopes!”

Entered privately in a fourth DS3 WRC, Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri will boost Citroën Racing’s presence at this year’s Monte-Carlo. Winner here in 2011, the man from the Drôme will be taking part in his first WRC rally in a World Rally Car.

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