Citroen stand-in Stephane Lefebvre says “nothing was easy” about Rally Australia, although he still managed to score a manufacturers' point.
Lefebvre was only meant to complete the recce in Coffs Harbour, but after Mads Ostberg had his accident
, was called up at the last minute.
The young Frenchman, who only made his competitive debut in the car on the asphalt roads in Germany last month, initially ran ninth, until he hit a rock in the final test on day one, breaking the front right wishbone on his DS 3 WRC.
He was able to return on Saturday, however, eventually finishing 13th under Rally 2 and posting 15 top-ten times in total – his best a seventh quickest time in SS1 on Friday and an eighth on Saturday in SS12.
“I hadn't expected to be competing here. We came to Australia only to take part in recce and we ended up lining up at the start. Nothing was easy, but we had to adapt quickly,” said Lefebvre after his first event on gravel with the DS 3 WRC and his first real taste of it on the loose.
“I have gained a lot of experience here. My aim had been to gradually reduce the gap to the leading guys, but we have to do more work on our pace notes in order to improve.
“[Overall though], I am happy - a good weekend for us and a great experience.”
Meanwhile, Citroen deputy team principal Marek Nawarecki hailed the performance as “significant.”
“Obviously, we're sorry that Mads was injured during recce. We hope he will recover quickly, in time to take part in pre-event testing for the Tour de Corse. He was replaced here by Stephane Lefebvre, for whom everything was new.
“He drove a DS 3 WRC on gravel for the first time. Given the conditions, his performance was significant. He gained experience and also scored an important point for the manufacturers' championship as well.”
Citroen currently trails Hyundai by 13 points in the battle for second position in the Manufacturers' with three events remaining.