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Citroën "win" 2002 Monte Carlo Rally

but subject to appeal against "illegal tyre change"

 The 2002 Monte Carlo Rally took place between Thursday, 17 January 2002 and Sunday, 20 January 2002

Provisional leading positions after end of Monte Carlo Rally:





1. *







+ 45.9




+ 2:01.6




+ 2:43.9




+ 2:53.3




+ 3:15.5




+ 4:08.0




+ 5:02.3




+ 6:21.8




+ 7:28.3

* Citroen have appealed against a two-minute penalty for illegally changing tyres 

The 70th Monte Carlo Rally is perhaps the single most prestigious rallying event in the world - the one that all teams long to win.  In scenes reminscent of the glory days of the DS, Citroën romped to a provisional victory after controversy surrounding an illegal tyre change.  The Monte is run on tarmac, although the drivers may be faced with several road conditions in any one stage - a mix of dry asphalt, black ice and snow. This year there were only 15 stages totalling 387 kilometers. 

In a dramatic start to the start of the 2002 World Rally Championship two Citroën Xsara World Rally Cars retired from the Monte Carlo. In a re-run of the 1999 event when Richard Burns’s Subaru and all three Peugeots refused to start,  the Citroëns of Thomas Radstrom and Philippe Bugalski retired on the 47.69 km road section with engine problems which could be similar to those that brought Sebastien Loeb's Citroën to a halt during the pre-event shakedown.

Stage Reports 
Sospel-Turini-La Bollene (32.85km)
Weather conditions on the first two stages were dry and bright, but the temperature in the mountains was close to freezing and the roads were damp and icy in places. The 555 Subaru World Rally Team drivers Solberg and Makinen took the lead - Solberg was quickest, with Makinen exactly one second behind in second place.
An electrical problem with Loeb’s Citroen slowed him by around 10 seconds and allowed Makinen to close in once more. 
Fastest Time : Solberg (Subaru) 22:38.4 

Loda-Luceram (16.55km)
Loeb was quickest, Colin McRae second and Carlos Sainz third. Convinced that Loeb’s penalty would stand, Tommi Makinen took things easy and was seventh. 
Fastest Time : Loeb (Citroen) 12:03.9 

Sospel-Turini-La Bollene (32.85km)
Solberg took the lead, Panizzi was second and Colin McRae third. McRae passed Marcus Gronholm to take fourth place overall. On the final two stages Loeb was fifth and Makinen sixth. Loeb’s lead remained at 45 seconds over Makinen, but it looked like the final result would be decided by the amount of penalty time given to Loeb. 
Fastest Time : Solberg (Subaru) 22:02.2 

Loda-Luceram (16.55km)
Petter Solberg was fastest, Panizzi second and Colin McRae third. 
Fastest Time : Solberg (Subaru) 22:02.2 

Event Stewards gave Sébastien Loeb a two minutes penalty for changing tyres in an unauthorised area. His team had swapped the tyres at the final service, just before the Xsara WRC made the short trip to Monaco parc ferme. While Citroën accepted that they had made a mistake, they lodged an appeal against the decision arguing that the penalty was too severe.

Loeb continued with the penalty suspended - the final judgement will be made by the FIA in Geneva, until then, the results of the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally remain provisional. Makinen will be deemed the winner if Citroën lose their appeal, with Loeb being demoted to second place. 

Citroen feel Loeb's victory will stand because the tyre change had been an innocent mistake, made in only their second year in the sport. Team principal Guy Frequelin said: "I hoped for a victory in this season, but now I'd like another one."

Makinen was not happy about the decision to leave Loeb in the lead since he would have been 90 seconds ahead at the start of the day if the penalty had been added to Loeb's time and claimed he had slowed down and added "Then we get to the finish and are told there were no time penalties. It was very disappointing. Sébastien drove very well but I could have been two minutes faster today if I had needed to." 

Since putting this page up on Monday 21st January 2002, Citroën has announced that it will not pursue its appeal.  It has been said that the FIA would have disqualified Loeb had Citroën lost its appeal.

Below is the Company's French Press Release with a translation into English.  As a result, Loeb has been relegated to second place.

Championnat du Monde des Rallyes 2002
Rallye Monte-Carlo
Citroën ne confirme pas l'appel. 

Après la pénalité de 2 mn infligée à l'équipage de la Xsara WRC lors du rallye Monte Carlo, Citroën avait émis son intention de faire appel de cette décision.

En accord avec Sébastien Loeb et Daniel Elena et afin de préserver ses bonnes relations avec la FIA et les autres concurrents, Citroën ne confirme pas cet appel. 

Paris, le 24 janvier 2002

World Rally Championship 2002
Monte Carlo Rally
Citroën withdraws its appeal

After the two minute penalty was imposed on the Xsara WRC team at the Monte Carlo rally, Citroën had announced its intention to appeal against this decision.

In agreement with Sébastien Loeb et Daniel Elena and in order to preserve good relations with both the FIA and other competitors, Citroën confirms it will not be pursuing its appeal.

Paris, 24th January 2002

Undoubtedly the moral winner of the 2002 Monte Carlo was Sébastien Loeb in the Citroën Xsara WRC - in much the way that Lucien Bianchi was the moral winner of the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon.  However, those with long memories will recall the mid-sixties controversy surrounding the FIA's ruling on the colour and height of the headlights on the winning BMC Minis.  The Minis were disqualified and Citroën reaped the rewards with the DS winning in much the way that Makinen has.

© Julian Marsh/Citroënët 2002