Citroen gives drivers free run

Newly-crowned world champion Sebastien Loeb and team-mate Carlos Sainz have been told by Citroen team boss Guy Frequelin that they are free to push as much as they want in a bid to secure victory at this weekend's Rally Catalunya

Citroen gives drivers free run

The French manufacturer secured both the drivers' and constructors' championship in Corsica earlier this month, but both the team and the two drivers are still motivated for the final two rallies of the season.

Loeb, who can no longer be caught in the drivers' chase, is targeting another rally win this weekend as he bids to score the most rally wins in a season, pipping the only other Frenchman to win the world title, Didier Auriol, who won six rallies in 1992. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz, who announced his retirement from the championship last week, will be gunning for a good result in his home rally.

"On Sunday evening in Corsica, I told them that I have revised my original objective," Frequelin said. "I usually tell them to drive as quickly as possible without leaving the road. In Spain and Australia, they will be free to go as fast as they want, without hurting themselves. That said, this freedom also all but implies they will have to be competitive."

Loeb is delighted with Frequelin's change of heart and can't wait to see if he can match the strong pace that Ford's Markko Martin and Francois Duval showed on the asphalt stages in Corsica.

"The fact that we've achieved our objectives takes some of the pressure off us," Loeb said. "Psychologically, it means you can switch to maximum attack and go for victory from the word go, without having other considerations at the back of your mind.

"Markko Martin and Francois Duval were very quick in Corsica. However, given the pace we deliberately chose, it is difficult to say whether we could have matched them had we pushed harder. That said, it's not my style to enter a corner with two chances in three of going off. I will drive at the limit of what is reasonable and see how it goes."

Sainz has also admitted he is going all-out for victory. "When you have a free hand, you can take more risks and try to drive even faster. But it's still important to be at the finish. My objective will be to end the season on the highest not possible. Yes, I want to win in Catalunya."

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