Citroen technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon says the team's recent victory in Mexico is no guarantee of success at next week's Rally of Portugal.
Mestelan-Pinon says he remains cautious about the forthcoming gravel rounds of the World Rally Championship, with the Citroen DS3 WRC's engine working in a different way to how it did in dusty Mexico.
"In competition," said Mestelan-Pinon, "we don't know how the car will work when the engine is giving more power. Yes, we won in Mexico and this is very nice, but when we come down from altitude and we are in Portugal, then the car will have more power and this will have an affect on the way it handles – and we don't know how our car will be against the other. Because it works in Mexico, it doesn't mean it works against Ford in [Portugal]."
Mestelan-Pinon maintained he would not be working on extracting more performance from the 1.6-liter engine before the homologation is set at the end of next month, instead, he will focus on solving the reliability issues which struck the Citroen in Mexico. Sebastien Loeb won the event despite a problem with the gearshift on his car and his teammate Sebastien Ogier had a minor engine glitch on the last long stage on day two.
"I must work on those small reliability problems," said Mestelan-Pinon. "The problem with Seb's [Loeb] car was a stupid thing. It was a really small clip, a really cheap piece. The only modification to this would be to add a tie-wrap to make sure it doesn't come out again!"
The Frenchman also added that the teething troubles experienced by Citroen and Ford in Mexico did not surprise him.
"The regulations for the World Rally Car have been the same for 15 years," he said. "And now everything is changed. We have the new gearbox, the new engine, suspension, everything – it is to be expected that there are some small problems. It's understandable."
Mestelan-Pinon concluded, however, that it was a relief to win with the DS3.
"I knew we had a fast car," he said, "we saw this with the fastest times in Sweden, but it's good to win. It's proof of the car and it finalizes things and lets us move forward with the car. I am happy."
Citroen remains unbeaten in the current era of Rally of Portugal. Since the event returned to the WRC in 2007, it has run three times: Loeb has won twice, while Ogier became the first – and only – man to beat Loeb in a C4 at the Faro-based event 12 months ago.