Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, welcomes back nine-time FIA World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb this weekend in Spain, and and the Frenchman got a brief taste of conditions ahead of the 2018 RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España during shakedown this morning on the outskirts of Salou.
An early scare was avoided when he he tipped the Citroën C3 WRC up on to two wheels on the same corner that saw championship leader Thierry Neuville roll out, other than this incident it was a straightforward session.
“We used this morning’s session mainly to continue to get our bearings back in the car because the stage bears no real resemblance to the rest of the rally.” said Loeb.
“I’m expecting a tough day tomorrow, with quite a high risk of picking up punctures. There’s also the La Fatarella – Vilalba stage which is difficult to read, but we’re going to give it everything to finish as high up the standings as possible.”
Loeb recorded the fourth fastest time of the session while team-mates Craig Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi finished seventh and twenty-seventh.
“The times are not significant on this shakedown but it’s always good for confidence to be the quickest off the mark.” said Breen. “I can’t wait to get started now. We are going to try and make the most of our good position in the running order on tomorrow’s leg but it does look like it will be pretty tricky.”
Al Qassimi added, “This morning, I focused on driving with the tyre set-up that we will be using for majority of tomorrow’s stages, which wasn’t necessarily ideal because the tyres weren’t totally suited to today’s stage. But this way, we were able to fine-tune our preparations. I also hope that we have some good, dry weather tomorrow so we can really enjoy the stage as much as possible.”
The rally gets underway this evening in Barcelona as the competitors take on the 3.2km city-based stage in front of thousands of fans. You can follow the action with live video on WRC+ and keep up to date throughout the four days with daily reports here at The Checkered Flag.