Citroen boss Yves Matton has conceded his team will need 'complete error-free rallies' from now on if they are to notch up further victories.
Sebastian Ogier and Volkswagen upped the ante in Sweden last weekend, and while Sebastien Loeb took the fight to his fellow countryman, he was compromised after a bad start on Thursday in qualifying
Citroen won't be able to rely on the nine-time world champion much more either, as he is scheduled to do just four events this season – and he has already done two of them. That means it will be up to Mikko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo and while both are highly rated, neither impressed in Sweden. That was especially disappointing for Hirvonen - who won in Sweden in 2010 and 2011 - and off the back of a less than impressive run in Monte Carlo for the Finn, the pressure is on.
“I would like to congratulate the winners of the rally [Sebastien Ogier and Volkswagen], who produced a perfect performance. It gives us an idea of how tough this season, which has only just started, is going to be. Our performance levels were in line with our objectives, but we'll now need to complete error-free rallies if we are going to win races,” Matton confirmed post-event.
Hirvonen meanwhile is already looking to Mexico and he will be keen to put his poor start to the season behind him there.
The Finn should have been one of the front runners in Sweden, but his mistake in the first proper stage – when he went off and got stuck in a snow bank, losing over 20 minutes – put him out of contention. He eventually finished 17th and scored two manufacturers' points. He was though unable to add to his own personal tally and despite a valiant effort in the Power Stage finished fourth and missed out there too.
“We knew it would be difficult [to get any bonus points in the Power Stage], but we had to give it everything. We nonetheless scored two extra points for Citroen in the Manufacturers' World Championship. There's not much more I can say about this rally,” Hirvonen remarked. “I am already focussed on Mexico [and round three].”
Sordo also failed to score, crashing out in the third from last stage, while running in eighth place.
“I was fairly pleased with how I had started the [last] day. We had really improved the set-up of the car again and I felt comfortable. I had taken eighth place from Martin Prokop and everything was going well. But on SS20, I hit a bank of snow, which was hiding a large rock,” the Spaniard explained.
“We went off pretty hard and the car was too badly damaged for us to be able to continue.”
Rally Mexico now takes place in four weeks time and it will be Citroen's first event of the year without Loeb. Citroen currently leads the Manufacturers' Championship by just 2 points.