ERC: Citroen Croatia Rally leg one notes

Citroen's Jean-Joseph (6th) fights back after early delay At the end of the opening leg of the 2007 Croatia Rally, Simon Jean-Joseph, Jack Boyère and their C2 S1600 figure in 6th position overall. Their PH Sport-prepared Citroen also tops both...

Citroen's Jean-Joseph (6th) fights back after early delay

At the end of the opening leg of the 2007 Croatia Rally, Simon Jean-Joseph, Jack Boyère and their C2 S1600 figure in 6th position overall. Their PH Sport-prepared Citroen also tops both the provisional Group A and Super 1600 standings.

The first day of the third round of the European Rally Championship (ERC) featured 140.12km of competitive action divided into nine asphalt stages (three different) in the Zumberak-Samoborsko-Gorje Nature Park west of Zagreb, including the long and challenging Budlinjak test (33.17km). The leg concluded with the Bundek super-special in the outskirts of the capital.

The Citroen crew and PH-Sport were extremely buoyed up by the prospect of contesting the Croatian event for the first time. "During recce, I sensed that we could be quick over this rally's flowing stages with don't call for that much hard re-acceleration," said Simon. "The main challenge, though, was clearly going to be dealing with the lack of grip and coping with the portions soiled by each passing car."

The shakedown test gave Simon a further opportunity to show his determination when he set the fastest time. And, conscious of his chances here, the Citroen C2 driver was immediately on the pace with the C2 S1600 once the rally started, moving into he lead after claiming a fastest time on SS2, although he preferred to remain cautious for what was to come. "We have only completed two stages and there is still a very long way to go.

Plenty can still happen," he warned at the morning's regroup in Zagreb. And right he was, for the Frenchman was forced to pull up shortly after the start of SS3. "I hit a stone that was by grass on the inside of a corner and punctured instantaneously. We had no other choice than to stop and change the wheel," he explained before staging a spirited fight- back as he strived to make up for lost ground.

"After that, the only option for the rest of the day after that was to attack," he related back in Zagreb at the end of the day. Indeed, over the next five stages, he immediately set about posting five top-three times, including his second best time of the rally on the day's longest test (SS6). "With all the dirt and stones dragged onto the road by the other competitors, it really wasn't easy. Even so, we have managed to claw back some of our deficit." The Citroen driver profited from the afternoon to climb from 16th place after his puncture to overnight 6th and his objective for Saturday is to move even further back up the leaderboard.

Meanwhile, Citroen Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton had mixed feelings about the day. "Simon and Jack have posted some excellent times with their C2 Super 1600," he recognised at the end-of-leg service. "On two occasions they finished ahead of all the four-wheel drive cars which, once again, points to the Citroen's potential. It's just a shame that, as was the case on the asphalt Mille Miglia, their run was blotted by a puncture. They were in front at the time and had every chance of staying there.

Tomorrow, as in Turkey, Simon will really have to push hard if he wants to home in on a podium finish which is the only way to score points in the ERC."

-credit: citroen

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About this article
Series Other rally
Drivers Simon Jean-Joseph , Jack Boyere , Yves Matton
Teams Citroën World Rally Team