Pirelli Era : First Win to Loen and Citroen
The Loeb-Elena Citroen C4 WRC has triumphed on the 76th Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the 2008 FIA WRC and the first rally with the new single tyre rule in place - exclusively supplied by Pirelli. The reigning World Champions finished ahead of the factory Ford Focus WRC of Hirvonen and Lehtinen. Gigi Galli finished sixth, having concentrated on staying out of trouble and learning his new Ford Focus WRC.
Monte Carlo, 27 January 2008- The 76th Monte Carlo Rally, the opening round of the first World Rally Championship contested exclusively on Pirelli rubber under the single tyre rules, saw the Pirelli PZero-equipped Citroen C4 WRC crew of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena triumph. The reigning World Champions dominated the rally, ending up with a comfortable advantage over their closest rivals. Pirelli also won the two-wheel drive classification (open to all tyre manufacturers) setting the fastest time in 17 out of 19 special stages.
Loeb, who claimed his fifth Monte Carlo win in the last six years, praised: "The speed and consistency of the PZero tyres, which did their job perfectly on both the snowy asphalt of the Col du Turini and the smooth roads of the superspecial in the centre of Monaco - although with the advantage we had at that point, we were obviously not pushing too hard there. As far as I'm concerned, Pirelli has had a very positive debut."
Behind Loeb the factory Ford Focus WRC of Hirvonen and Lehtinen was second, after a solid drive that gained them eight precious championship points. There was a thrilling fight for third place between the Subaru Impreza WRC of Atkinson-Prevot and the Ford Focus WRC of Duval-Chevailler. In the end, it was won by the Australian Subaru driver thanks to a 1.1 second margin after nearly 400 kilometers of special stages.
Gigi Galli, co-driven by Giovanni Bernacchini, had a positive return to the World Rally Championship by taking his Ford Focus WRC to sixth place. He concentrated on learning his car and the new Pirelli PZero tyres, whilst accumulating more valuable kilometers and avoiding the mistakes that have forced his retirement on this challenging event in the past.
According to Paul Hembery, Pirelli's motorsport director: " Pirelli's debut as exclusive tyre supplier to the FIA WRC went even better than we expected. We didn't have any of the punctures that some people expected following the abolition of tyre mousse and the drivers were pleased with our tyres. It did not take long for them to get used to our products, as Loeb - who had never driven on Pirelli rubber before - amply demonstrated. It's also worth pointing out that Pirelli virtually monopolised the action when the competition between tyre manufacturers was open, as proved by Renault Clio driver Broccoli's victory in the two-wheel drive category - where the PZeros won 17 out of 19 stages. This weekend's success is not only down to some excellent work from the Pirelli technicians on-event in Monte Carlo, but also thanks to the solid preparation work at the Izmit factory in Turkey and Turin factory in Italy."