It was not the ideal start for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team on the first round of the FIA World Rally Championship as the squad of three cars endured a tough event.
Sébastien Loeb‘s return to the rallying scene was undoubtedly the talk of the pre-event hype as the nine times world champion was back for a one off appearance in Monte Carlo. It was an impressive start for the Frenchman, who was co-driven by Daniel Elena, winning stage 1 by a staggering 22 seconds. Loeb held the lead heading into the second leg. It was a steady start for Citroen’s full time drivers for 2015, Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg. Meeke took an impressive fourth on the demanding stage 1 but dropped to 6th on the second test. Ostberg struggled to find a rhythm and ended the first leg in 9th place
On day 2 Loeb took two more stage wins on the third and sixth test but on stage seven Volkswagen’s Sébastien Ogier took the lead. Disaster was to strike on the next test as Loeb slide wide, hit a rock and broke the left rear suspension. The Citroen driver wasn’t able to make it back to Parc Ferme and was forced to retire and rejoin the event through Rally 2 the next day. The same stage saw Citroen driver Meeke make a similar mistake which forced him into retirement for the day also. Ostberg’s confidence crew as the day progressed and 3rd fastest on stage 8 saw the Norwegian move up to fifth place.
Despite being out of the running for victory Loeb and Meeke showed their speed over the remaining tests. Meeke won three of the remaining six stages including the power stage and Loeb won two. Ostberg moved up to 4th on the 10th test after Ott Tanak hit trouble and held the position to the end of the event collecting valuable points for the team. Loeb managed to recover to finish 8th while Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke recovered to tenth meaning that Citroen had all three cars in the points.
9 times World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb said the conditions were a great challenge.“The conditions didn’t really work in our favour and a minor mistake proved very costly.
“But that takes nothing away from the fun we had in the DS 3 WRC. We experienced a lot of good moments. It was a really great experience for Daniel, at home, and for me!”