Belfast Telegraph

Citroen's final shot at turning back time


A final fling: Sebastien Loeb
A final fling: Sebastien Loeb

By Sammy Hamill

Rally Catalunya a year ago was the last time Citroen enjoyed a win in the World championship - one achieved by Kris Meeke who, ironically, was later sacked for crashing too often.

No-one since has come close to emulating the Ulsterman, who will be an interested bystander as he waits to take up his new role with the Toyota team in 2019.

But Catalunya, with its mix of gravel stages on day one followed by two days of tarmac, represents Citroen's best chance of ending their barren run.

Craig Breen, whose Citroen career may also be winding down, has the nine-times World champion Sebastien Loeb as his team-mate, the great Frenchman returning for one final hurrah before Sebastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi take up the reins in 2019.

The fast tarmac stages are the crucial part of the rally, and both Loeb and Breen have the opportunity to exploit the one area in which the wayward C3 Citroen can excel. Khalid al Qassimi with Ulster co-driver Chris Patterson is also part of the Citroen team.

But the Citroen scenario is just a side show to the intriguing battle for the World title with just Catalunya and Rally Australia remaining.

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville has led for a large part of the season as he tries to unseat Ford's five-times champion Ogier.

But, following Ogier's victory on Rally GB earlier this month, they are separated by just seven points and right behind them is the fastest driver of the moment, Meeke's soon-to-be Toyota team-mate Ott Tanak.

The Estonian has won three of the last four rounds with a speed that no-one has been able to match, and only a freak incident cost him Rally GB too.

Belfast Telegraph


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