Next weekend’s Rally France sees CitroÃ«n aiming to claim victory on home soil, with star crew Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena looking to seal their record seventh championship title with victory on the event.
For the first time the French World Rally Championship event will be held in the Alsace region, the home region of Loeb, which will further add to his desire to take the win, which to add to the records, would also be the 60th of his WRC career.
Strasbourg will act as the base for the asphalt Rally France, with the final stage being held on the streets of Hagenau, where Loeb lived for a long time.
With massive local support, Loeb admits he is feeling some pressure.
“It's one hell of a lot of pressure. Given my success rate on this kind of surface, everybody's expecting me to stroll home to an easy victory, but this rally won't be any easier than the others. Quite the opposite in fact, as it's a completely new event consisting of quick roads, which include most of the difficulties we normally meet on asphalt”.
Despite the seemingly easy nature to which he has built his WRC points lead, Loeb pointed out that competition is still fierce in the championship.
“This season, there are six drivers who are all capable of winning, so the overall level of the championship is very high and there's no way victory for me in this event is a foregone conclusion”, said Loeb.
Speaking of the possibility of achieving so much on his home event, Loeb said “The ideal would be to clinch it [the WRC title] as soon as possible. Obviously, winning my sixtieth victory and my seventh world title at home would be the fulfilment of a dream”.
The CitroÃ«n Total World Rally Team sits atop of the Manufacturers’ championship standings, and if it it’s successful, it will claim it’s sixth such title.
The team has also entered Dani Sordo, co-driven by Diego Vallejo, for the event. Ever the team player, Sordo said of his targets for Rally France, “I'm going to do everything in my power to obtain the best possible results. As usual, I'll be aiming for a place on the podium. After a few stages we'll see if it's possible to go for the topmost step!”.
Also representing CitroÃ«n on Rally France will be the CitroÃ«n Junior Team, fielding two cars.
SÃ©bastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are fresh from outright victory on the recent Japanese WRC event, and the second crew of Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen and Kaj LindstrÃ¶m are also high on confidence after claiming victory on the recent Rallye Vosgien, held in the same area as the upcoming WRC event.
Despite the surface not suiting Ogier as much as the loose in Japan, he is still aiming high.
“With a new rally like this we start on an equal footing with everyone else in terms of experience. That was the case in Bulgaria earlier this year as well, where we managed to set some good stage times. We need to make sure that we do a good job during the recce so that we are right on the pace from the very first run through the stages. I've got every confidence that the team will soon find the right set-up for the CitroÃ«n C4 WRC in these conditions. The goal for us is to be as close as possible to the very best”.