► Citroën DS3 WRC in Argentina - Sébastien Loeb
Since the start of the season the Citroën DS3 WRCs have won all four rallies run on gravel. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, victorious in Mexico and Italy, and Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, winners in Portugal and Jordan, have shared Citroën's successes. The Citroën Total World Rally Team's aim is to continue this winning streak in Argentina, an event in which the French team has always excelled. Rally Argentina is the first of two events run in the southern hemisphere and returns to the WRC calendar after a year's absence. Villa Carlos Paz is still the nerve centre of the event and the entrants will rediscover the famous Traslasierra, Punilla and Calamuchita valleys. A new super special has been laid out in Villa Carlos Paz. It will be the theatre of the start, which will take place on Thursday afternoon. In addition, long asphalt sections will be scattered along the mainly gravel route. "A test session was held this week to validate the behaviour of the car on asphalt," explains Sébastien Loeb. With a twenty-kilometre section on Friday and another fourteen kilometres on Saturday to be covered twice, almost 20% of the rally will be on tarmac. "As the asphalt sections are in the very heart of the gravel sectors, we can't play on the setups. We'll have to adapt our driving style to get the best out of them. And the crucial factor will be good tyre wear management." Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena lead the overall drivers' classification and they're aiming for another victory in Argentina: "Our results are the fruit of the whole team's work. It's a good sign to see that the Citroën DS3 WRCs seem to have a slight advantage on gravel, but the gaps are tiny at the end of each rally. We'll have to be quick right from the start, and go pedal to the metal till the end, there's no question of letting up." Sébastien Ogier's only outing in Argentina was in 2009 so he has limited experience in this rally: "We're coming here with much greater ambitions than two years ago. The route's fantastic and very varied. You have to have very accurate notes as certain passages are very narrow with big stones on the edge of the line like Mina Clavero and El Condor. Others are more sandy but bumpy as always." "Of course, we're aiming for the best possible result," Ogier, who is currently lying third in the championship chase, adds. "We're going try and score good points and close the gap to the leaders." Three questions to Sébastien Loeb Looking back on the first five rallies of the season, the score card reads two victories and the lead in the world championship so everything seems to be going pretty well... "This season will be hotly contested right till the very end. All the rallies are very closely fought. In Sardinia, we won by around ten seconds from Mikko Hirvonen. The gap between Sébastien Ogier and Jari-Matti Latvala in Jordan was only two-tenths of a second! It's hard to predict how things are going to pan out in the coming months. It's good to be in the lead, but it's early days yet. There are many victory contenders. But I have to say I don't think about this very much when I'm behind the steering wheel, I just try to do my best." After your performance in Rally Italy, do you think that sweeping is still as important as ever this year? "Maybe the gaps are not as big at the same speeds. I think I was a bit lucky in Sardinia. It went much better than we expected before the start. You're still penalized by sweeping when you're first out on the road. If you have the choice it's better to start behind." You've won the last five Argentinean rallies. Is it one of the events on the calendar you particularly look forward to? "It's got an ambience unlike any other. The Argentinean spectators are mad about rallying. They're very warm, very demonstrative and really participate in the event. There are people everywhere, from the hotel to the summits of the stages. We've got a good record in this rally, which I can't really explain. The route's very varied. Some stages alternate technical portions and quicker ones. Maybe I've just been a bit more successful than my rivals over the past few years. For sure, I feel good here!"
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