THE C3 R5 CLAIMS STAGE WIN ON PANZERPLATTE
Among the leading lights in the category, with Stéphane Lefebvre – Gabin Moreau winning the famous Panzerplatte stage, Citroën's crews were also hit by bad luck during the weekend. Stéphane and Gabin finished eighth in the WRC2 and Yoann Bonato – Benjamin Boulloud ended the rally eleventh, whilst Simone Tempestini – Sergiu Itu, who had several punctures, took tenth place.
The WRC2 is such a closely-contested category and the events so demanding that there really is no better testing ground. Customers can benefit from highly detailed, comprehensive feedback gathered in competitive conditions. Having already claimed two podiums in the category (2ndin Corsica, 3rdin Portugal) and stage wins at almost every rally contested, the C3 R5 is enjoying an honourable debut season as development is finalised. Rallye Deutschland proved to be no exception. After setting the third fastest time on the rally's first proper stage, just 2.4s off the pace over the 19.44km test, Stéphane Lefebvre moved into second place in the WRC2, confirming that he was once again set to challenge for the category win. However, he unfortunately suffered a puncture on the following stage. Yoann Bonato, who set the second fastest time through the vineyards on the narrow, technical Mittelmosel stage, picked up where Stéphane had left off, taking over in second place in the category. A position that he briefly lost, before regaining it again to end the opening day in the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Stéphane Lefebvre began a crazy fightback from fifteenth place, collecting a third fastest time (SS5) and a second fastest time (SS6), just two tenths off the stage-winning time, along the way. The talented 26 year-old Frenchman then went one better on Saturday, topping the timesheets on the first pass on the formidable Panzerplatte stage (38.57km), held on uneven concrete roads that are ordinarily used by the tanks from the Baumholder military base. Further proof that the C3 R5 has the ability to be fast on some of the most demanding and difficult surfaces in the World championship. Unfortunately, Yoann Bonato, still among the podium places at that point, was hit by a puncture at the same time and dropped down the standings, before then being forced to retire with a technical problem (SS13). Stéphane Lefebvre picked up the baton with verve, setting the second fastest time on the second pass on Panzerplatte, taking him into second place, just over 25s off the lead. But unfortunately, a broken wheel rim (SS14) brought his fine run to an end. Effectively out of the fight for the leading places, the Citroën works driver and Yoann Bonato, who rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Sunday, opted to use the remaining stages to conduct some full-scale testing in preparation for future events. Meanwhile, Simone Tempestini concluded his debut outing on tarmac in the C3 R5 in tenth place in the WRC2, after suffering three punctures (on SS13 and SS16).
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"Obviously, I'm sorry that Stéphane and Yoann in particular, were short on luck this weekend. We still need to keep gathering experience with the C3 R5 and every kilometre completed at a World championship rally, which all present specific challenges, helps us to improve. It is nonetheless worth highlighting that Stéphane grabbed a stage win again, all the more impressive for the fact that it was on the hardest stage of the weekend, and both drivers were fighting for the category lead at various points during the rally."
"Once again, we set some good times and undoubtedly produced the comeback of the rally after our first puncture, fighting back from fifteenth place up to second. Clearly, it's pretty frustrating not to come away with a good result but I'm convinced that when we do manage to put it all together, then we'll be fighting for the category win with the C3 R5."