“Paris is going to be busy in the spring”
GROUP RALLYING EDITOR
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.