“Paris is go­ing to be busy in the spring”

GROUP RAL­LY­ING ED­I­TOR

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - DAVID EVANS mn.let­ters@haymarket.com

Driv­ers tell sto­ries. It’s what they do. And it may sur­prise you to find that some have fic­tion off to a finer art than J.K. Rowl­ing. The only way around this is to get out there and gather some data of your own.

I try to watch at least one stage on each event, just to have a han­dle on what’s go­ing on. In Swe­den, I needed more.

Last week, I told you Citroen would be back on round two.

“For­get Monte Carlo,” I said. “Citroen will be back in Swe­den. No doubt.”

Hmm. Seems I do a fairly de­cent line in fic­tion my­self.

Swe­den was a bit of a dis­as­ter for Citroen. OK, you can find the odd split here and there which could be spun to cast a nicer light, but the re­al­ity is that the C3 WRC isn’t where it should be. It’s not even close.

And yes I know, Monte and Swe­den are so spe­cific we can’t draw any com­par­isons or con­clu­sions. Well, guess what, col­lec­tively, the ser­vice park has drawn both and the think­ing is that Ver­sailles’ new mo­tor is strug­gling to keep up with its three ri­vals.

So much for Tommi Maki­nen and Toy­ota be­ing the whip­ping boys. The Yaris is a work of art com­pared with the C3.

Hear­ing Kris Meeke had gone off the road on the sec­ond run at Var­gasen, I wasn’t sur­prised.

There are, I’m sure, some out there who share that sen­ti­ment.

But my lack of sur­prise wasn’t born out of mis­an­thropic, opin­ion-based jaun­dice. In­stead, mine came from stand­ing at the side of the road and watch­ing Meeke and Craig Breen back­ing the Citroen into cor­ners of all speeds and all an­gles.

Take the first cor­ner in Var­gasen: a sixth-gear left which leads into a fifth-gear right.

Look at the Citroens and there’s more slip and far more in­put than their ri­vals. That exit im­me­di­ately im­pacts on the en­try for the fol­low­ing right.

OK, we’re talk­ing tenths of sec­onds, but they’re tenths lost, not won.

And then there’s the case of miss­ing studs on Satur­day af­ter­noon. Cu­ri­ous about this, I talked to Miche­lin and checked the other boys’ cov­ers. Yes, there was the odd stud miss­ing, but noth­ing like the ab­sence of steel and tung­sten in the C3’s boots.

Talk­ing to ri­val en­gi­neers, their think­ing con­firms my own. The damp­ing and sus­pen­sion of the C3 is not what it might be. Is there a dan­ger the DS 3 WRC’S Achilles heel has been car­ried over?

It re­ally is too early to say. We need to get into the sec­ond-run ruts in Mex­ico and maybe a wet Ar­gentina to re­ally find that one out.

But right now, Paris in the spring­time looks like it’s go­ing to be a fairly busy place.

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