CITROEN BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

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CITROEN BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

(WRC.com release, 14/3/2013)  CITROEN teammates Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo have acknowledged they have hard work ahead if they are to challenge Volkswagen’s Sebastien Ogier for this year’s FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ title.

Hirvonen drove his DS3 to second position on Rally Guanajuato Mexico last weekend, but the Finn was a distant 3m28.9s behind Ogier, who took victory on the Polo R’s gravel debut.

Sordo finished fourth and similarly struggled to match to match the leaders’ times.

The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will work to find more time in the cars before the fourth WRC round in Portugal, starting on 11 April.

Hirvonen was rarely able to match the pace of his French rival, winning just two stages compared to Ogier’s tally of 16. Ogier now heads the drivers’ standings on 74 points, with Hirvonen third on 30.

After the podium ceremony in Leon, Hirvonen said he was relieved to get a top-three result after a lacklustre start to his season in Monte-Carlo and losing any chance of a decent finish in a crash on Rally Sweden.

“It looks like Volkswagen has raised the game and we have to fight hard,” said Hirvonen.

“We have to work even harder now, I am sure we can improve everything. I am still sliding a little too much and losing time.

“I was maybe a bit sleepy in the first stage on Friday but, after that, I was quite pleased with my driving. But I was not able to match Seb’s pace so we have to go back to the drawing board again.

“We always want to fight for the win. People know I have been in this position many times and we will try again,” he added.

Sordo hopes a pre-event test for Rally Portugal will help get his gravel performance back on track.

Mexico was Sordo’s first gravel rally for Citroen since he rejoined the manufacturer this year after two seasons with Mini. It was also his first taste of gravel with the DS3 World Rally Car, the model that replaced the C4 he drove from 2007 to 2010.

Sordo struggled to find a comfortable set-up in Mexico and spent much of the rally frustrated by oversteer and a lack of traction.

His fourth place matched his best result to date on the event, however his stage times rarely troubled the leaders and he finished more than six minutes adrift of Sebastien Ogier.

“It’s difficult always on gravel and it’s a little more difficult for me than on other rallies, like tarmac, but we need to find something with the set-up to have more confidence – especially for the first pass through the stages,” he said.

“We will work hard at our tests before Portugal and hope to have a better rally there.”