Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena drove a perfect race on the Catalonian gravel and killed two birds with one stone thanks to the sixty-seventh victory of their career. First of all, they gave the Citroën Total World Rally Team their seventh world title with one round still to go before the end of the season, and secondly their win has put them back in the overall lead in the Drivers’ World Championship chase. The outcome of the battle for the title will be decided in Wales in three weeks’ time.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, who were in the lead with thirty seconds in hand over their nearest rival, were determined to convert their position into their fifth victory of the season. After making the best tyre choice, they were able to control the gap in the first leg and set the fastest time in Coll de la Teixeta (SS15), the special used for the Power Stage.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who set off in fifth spot, started the day well with two fastest times and two second places. Just when they were on the point of snatching fourth in the overall classification they had to stop their Citroën DS3 WRC in the second-last stage due to an engine problem. Ogier did not score any points in Spain so, mathematically speaking, he is no longer in the running for the Drivers’ World Championship.
The Power Stage became the focal point of interest at the end of the race because of its bonus points. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena were on hard tyres on the soaking wet tarmac and did not take any unnecessary risks. Nevertheless, they set the third-quickest time synonymous of a bonus point. “We’re very relieved to have won. It really wasn’t an easy victory, and we had to fight right till the very end,” explained Loeb after celebrating his sixty-seventh win on his 150th start in the world championship. “Today, choosing the right tyres was a bit complicated because of the uncertain weather. We were not really in the best position for the Power Stage but we still managed to score a point, which could prove very useful for us in three weeks! On tarmac, you have to adopt a very precise driving style rather like on a circuit. But this year, we laid the foundations of our victory on gravel in the first leg.”
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will start Rally Great Britain with a lead of eight points over Mikko
Hirvonen: “For the moment we’re celebrating Citroën’s seventh title! But the drivers’ crown is far from over. Mikko Hirvonen has done a good job by finishing second here and we know he’ll be competitive on the stages in Wales. We must finish in front of him. The best thing we could do would be to win. So our destiny is in our own hands!”
While awaiting the final duel between Sébastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen, the whole Citroën Total World Rally Team is savouring their seventh world title as Olivier Quesnel, the Citroën Racing Team Principal, underlines. “Today, we’re very proud of our World Championship title, the fourth in succession for Citroën. It’s the result of consistent work by a calm and humble team. We’ve stuck together through the hard times. We’ve won ten out of the twelve rallies held so far, which is a pretty good score. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia should also be associated with this result, as they had a great season despite their retirement this weekend. We’re going to analyze his car in the workshops to find out exactly what the problem was, but we already know that it isn’t linked to Sébastien Loeb’s retirement in France. We had two objectives this season, the drivers’ title and manufacturers’ crown. Today, we fulfilled one of them!