Citroen's Sebastien Loeb has insisted his victory on Rallye Monte Carlo was not easy, even though he dominated the event and eventually triumphed by over 2.5 minutes.
Loeb led the opening round in the 2012 World Rally Championship pretty much throughout and he finished on a high yesterday, by taking the honours in the Power Stage too.
That means he took the maximum 28-point haul from the event, something that sets him up nicely as he bids to take the WRC drivers' title for the ninth time.
Speaking at the finish, the Frenchman added that his success was largely down to being on the right tyres and at the right time, even though conditions were, on occasion, quite tricky and unpredictable.
“I am happy to win a rally that means a lot to me,” Loeb said. “There were a lot of supporters alongside the roads and I also wanted to win for them. It's a big gap to second, but I wouldn't say that this was an easy win.
“We had to deal with all sorts of conditions and my lead was largely built on better tyre choices, which were mainly down to the work of Citroen Racing's technical team and our tyre partner Michelin. For the first time in a long time in WRC, we were able to choose between five types of tyres and we always managed to pick the right tyres for the circumstances.
“The Citroen DS3 WRC worked like a dream. I felt comfortable from the start of the rally and I managed to get into a good rhythm. It's certainly a nice way to start the season.”
Yves Matton, who is now team principal, meanwhile concurred with his number one driver that tyre choice was critical.
“It's important to start the season on a positive note and great to win a rally as legendary as Monte Carlo. One of the key factors was tyre choice,” he continued. “The analysis work performed prior to the rally by our engineers, who had imagined almost every possible eventuality, helped us to make the right choices.
“Sebastien was impressive in terms of his race management. He was patient and took it a little easier when necessary and then pushed when the conditions enabled him to do so.”
“This is an exciting result for us,” added Citroen's general manager Frederic Banzet. “Once again, I was very impressed by the entire team. It is very satisfying to see everyone working in relaxed fashion. The red army is on its way again!”