Citroën’s aces careful about Monte chances: “Tyres will decide!”

The 2012 World Rally Championship officially started this morning with the shakedown for the Rallye Monte-Carlo. The four Citroën DS3 WRCs entered for the rally completed each of the four mandatory runs without incident.

Click to read Citroën Racing’s shakedown report.

Contested in glorious sunshine, the shakedown session was run on a stretch of road just over three kilometres long on the plateau de Lautagne, to the south of Valence. Although not particularly representative of the route of the main rally, this stage enabled the driver pairings to check that the cars were in good working order before tomorrow’s start. The fastest time was set by Evgeny Novikov with 2’13’’0, half a second ahead of Sébastien Loeb.

Sébastien Loeb: “I am a little apprehensive about this rally, even though I have won it five times before. Obviously, it’s the weather that complicates matters. We were under the impression that this year’s rally would be dry but snow fell before the final day of reconnaissance, which caught everyone by surprise. The work of the early starters will be essential for choosing the right tyres. At Monte-Carlo, there’s always a degree of compromise involved in tyre choice and I think that makes the rally pretty exciting!”

Mikko Hirvonen: “I am pleased to start the season at Monte-Carlo. I have worked a lot with the team during the off-season and I feel good in the car. Having said that, it’s always a bit different when you line up at the start of a special stage that you know by heart, when you only need to rely on your notes and what you can see in front of the bonnet. Before the snow fell, I had thought it would be a relatively easy rally. But in actual fact, I think it’s going to be a ‘real’ Monte-Carlo! If I can begin my new working relationship with Citroën with a podium finish, I’d be very happy with that.”

Thierry Neuville: “A new adventure starts here for me and I am very proud to be part of the best team in the world. I took part in testing last week; everything went well and I felt very good again this morning during the shakedown. I don’t have a lot of experience at this rally, as I went off during the first special stage here last year. My aim is to make to end of the race and develop my confidence in the car.”