Citroen Total World Rally team boss Olivier Quesnel has paid homage to his number one driver Sebastien Loeb after the Frenchman took the honours on the Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend.
Loeb led the '1000 Lakes' from start-to-finish and while Mikko Hirvonen ensured it was by no means an easy victory, the four-time world champion still managed to notch up 15 stages victories from 24 and in the end he came out top by just under 10 seconds.
It was the first time Seb had ever won the 'Finnish Grand Prix' - and also the first time for Citroen too - and in combination with the five points notched up by Dani Sordo in the #2 car, it allowed the team to close in on Ford in the battle for the manufacturers', reducing the deficit from 9 points to just three.
"When you know just how tough it is to win this event, today's result is immensely satisfying,” said Quesnel. “Sébastien and [co-driver] Daniel [Elena] didn't put a foot wrong and they came out on top at the end of what was an unrelenting fight. They are like extra-terrestrials! They have been super-human!
“The tremendous work put in by everyone in the technical team on the C4 since last year has paid dividends as well. It was awesomely competitive and this is a top result for us in terms of the Manufacturers' Championship, too.
“The way both C4s performed is particularly encouraging for the rest of the season. Dani and [co-driver] Marc [Marti] also put in a very mature run. A magnificent victory, some outstanding times, clockwork reliability and a big points haul - what else could we ask for?"
Asked in the post-event press conference, if he thought they could take the victory in Jyvaskyla this weekend, Quesnel conceded that he didn't think they would break the Nordic domination.
Indeed prior to Loeb's win on Sunday, only three other non-Scandinavian drivers' had won the event, namely Markko Martin (2003), Didier Auriol (1992) and Carlos Sainz (1990).
“When we came here I did not think that it could happen [and that we would win]. I knew that Sébastien wanted to win but I knew also that points were important to us above all for the Championship,” he added.
“But he set a good pace and then as you saw the car was OK and so congratulations to him. It is good for Citroën and for the Championship. There was no strategy, it was just pure driving.”
So how are the team feeling now heading to Germany?
“When we came to Finland we were the challenger and won. In Germany we will be the favourite, and so we have to take care if we want to win again,” he warned. “We cannot be complacent so even from tomorrow we will work hard and begin our testing.”