1st Rally Russia (July 12-14, 2007) The Citroen C2-R2 and Simon Jean-Joseph lead Group A Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack BoyÃ¨re profited from the opening day of the inaugural Rally Russia to put their Citroen C2-R2 on top of the provisional Group A...
1st Rally Russia (July 12-14, 2007)
The Citroen C2-R2 and Simon Jean-Joseph lead Group A
Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack Boyère profited from the opening day of the inaugural Rally Russia to put their Citroen C2-R2 on top of the provisional Group A leaderboard. The French pair successfully shrugged off challenges from competitors in more powerful machines in many cases with four-wheel drive to emerge in an excellent 10th place overall.
The Russian event's inclusion in the 2007 Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) calendar was a motor sport landmark that Citroen did not want to miss and Simon Jean-Joseph was particularly enthralled with the prospect of contesting this rally. The warm welcome given by the local spectators during recce and in the service park only served to confirm the Frenchman's positive first impressions. "This is my first time on this event and also in this country," he commented. "Having this rally included in an international competition was important for Russia. There is huge interest from the media and the spectators that come to see us are really excited."
The organisers were unfortunately forced to cancel Thursday evening's scheduled super-special in Saint Petersburg after failing to obtain all the necessary authorisations. Even so, competitors were able to visit this legendary city for the official start ceremony before returning to Vyborg which saw the fourth round of the IRC get under way this morning. The opening leg's programme featured a total of seven stages for slightly more than 102km of against-the-clock action.
The average speed of the fastest crew over the day's first test (almost 136kph!) gave an immediate idea of the gravel stages' profile. "They're extremely fast," commented Simon at the end of the morning's loop. "They're like Finland but with fewer jumps and they are more cut-up. There are even some very rough and rocky parts in places, and that isn't ideal territory for our C2-R2. I took my time to find my marks to begin with because it's been two events since I last drove this car and there some notable differences between the C2-R2 and the C2 Super 1600 I usually drive. After a few tweaks to the set-up, I felt increasingly more comfortable with the car and tried to profit from its potential and reliability to post some decent times." Indeed, Simon set an eloquent string of second quickest Group A times and progressively moved up the leaderboard throughout the day.
After the lunchtime break, it was raining as action resumed but that didn't prevent the Citroen from gaining further places. "Along with the guys from PH Sport, we profited from the service halt to further fine-tune the set-up." The improvements clearly paid off since Simon went on to post two fastest times to take over at the top in Group A when the early leader hit trouble. "We are currently 10th overall," observed the Martinique-based driver this evening. "The terrain isn't easy but we've managed to be consistent and quick. I said before the start that I was convinced the C2-R2 could spring a surprise. We've still got one leg to go to defend our position and, why not, perhaps even move up the order..."