Citroen factory drivers Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier say they would be satisfied with podium finishes in this weekend's World Rally Championship opener in Sweden, admitting they are already both focused on building title campaigns with their all-new DS3 WRC.
The new DS3 WRC was slightly outpaced by Ford's new Fiesta RS WRC in today's shakedown, but times were close between the top factory cars. Fastest of all though was M-Sport Stobart's Henning Solberg with a 2m02.5sec time. Right behind him was Mikko Hirvonen's factory Fiesta with Petter Solberg the fastest Citroen next – all three covered by 0.2sec. Loeb's DS3 was fourth fastest, a further tenth back.
Seven-time World Champion Loeb says that while Sweden is not his most successful event – he has won the event only once, in 2004 – he believes Citroen is fully ready for the start of the new campaign.
"I hope we are ready," he said. "It's new regulations, new car, new rivals, so we have tried to prepare as well as we could on our side, the car and the team.
"I just hope we are ready to fight, for the rest I am looking forward to see how will be the battle with the other drivers and the other manufacturers. We start from zero again so... I have a new teammate who may be a big rival. We have Petter Solberg in another DS3, we have the Ford team which will be also strong. It's difficult to say who will be the biggest challenger but it will be interesting.
"For me, a good result here in Sweden is to score some good points. A podium is not bad in Sweden – it's a rally I've only won once but I've had a few second places. I hope I can do as well as in the past."
Loeb's new teammate Ogier, who set the ninth-fastest time in the shakedown, said that he, too, was focused on a points finish to begin his season.
"It's the first rally of the season and it is always important to start well," he said. "For me a good result here would be a podium.
"I will be very happy with this kind of result, we know that the season is very long but if you want to finish in a good place in the championship overall you have to score points all the time. So even if it is a very specific rally, and even if it is very difficult to fight against the Scandinavian drivers, we'll try to do our best and score maximum points as well."