The Citroen Junior Team takes on a legend
The Citroen Junior Team will run three C4 WRCs on the Acropolis Rally in Greece from 12-14 June, for Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt, Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt and Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia.
Three weeks after a successful outing in Sardinia, which resulted in a fine fifth place for Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt, the Citroen Junior Team will once more line up three Citroen C4 WRCs for the start of the Acropolis Rally in Greece: one of the classic fixtures on the WRC calendar.
For the first time in its history, Greece's round of the World Rally Championship will be based in Loutraki. On the first day, a remote service area based in Itea will host the crews as they contest stages to the north of the Gulf of Corinth. Day two will use stages in the Peloponnese that have not seen competitive action since the 1980s. The rally will finish on Sunday with five final stages, including two runs through the fearsome Aghii Theodori test.
Just as was the case in Italy, Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt and Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt have been nominated to score manufacturer points for the Citroen Junior Team, which is currently fourth in the World Rally Championship.
Conrad Rautenbach will be starting his fifth Acropolis Rally, which is also the second time that he will have competed in Greece at the wheel of a Citroen C4 WRC: " We learned a lot in Sardinia, thanks to the very tricky roads there and the hot temperatures. I think we are well-prepared for Greece now. There are some new stages planned for this year, which are a bonus for us as we are still just gaining experience. I'm impatient for the rally to start now, so that we can demonstrate our progress. "
After driving a flawless rally on the last round in Italy, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt scored their first ever World Rally Championship points by finishing fifth. In Greece, which shares certain characteristics with Sardinia, the Russian driver hopes to continue making progress. " The result in Sardinia was a huge source of satisfaction for us " he said. " This year, our aim is simply to learn, whilst at the same time demonstrating that we are capable of putting in some good performances. In Greece, I want to stick with the same sort of pace. The rally will once more be an extremely tricky one, with temperatures that are likely to exceed 50o.C in the cockpit. "
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia got off to an excellent start in Italy and would like to continue their progress in Greece. " The objective remains the same " confirmed the Frenchman. " The plan is to be as consistent as possible throughout the rally in order to be sure of making the finish. The conditions in Greece are likely to be even tougher than they were in Italy. It's going to be a question of staying very careful and concentrated throughout both the recce and the actual rally. I hope to have something to show for it all at the end! "
Three questions to... Benoit Nogier, Citroen Junior Team manager
With fifth place for Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt in Sardinia, has the Citroen Junior Team shown its real potential yet?
" We're very happy to have brought home this solid result in Italy. Since Ireland, the success we've been looking for has eluded us. We can now add a fifth place for Evgeny and Dale to the one that we scored at the beginning of the season with Chris Atkinson and Stephane Prevot. It's a just reward for all the hard work we have put in and for the potential that Evgeny has demonstrated since the start of the year. I hope now that there are even better times ahead for him. "
The Acropolis Rally of Greece is well-known as an extremely punishing event. How will you be approaching it?
" We've worked very hard on our Citroen C4 WRCs in order to be perfectly prepared for the challenges that this rally presents us with. There are several new stages but we have been told that these roads are very tough. We're going to apply all the lessons we learned in Argentina and Sardinia, two rallies that were very tricky for us mechanically. Just as was the case in Argentina, Sebastien Ogier will use a 2008-specification Citroen C4 WRC. "
Have you got any new objectives now that we are embarking on the second half of the season?
" Our guiding principle is still to be at the end of all the rallies. In Greece, just as is the case everywhere else, we need to finish. We're going to take each day as it comes and try to make more progress in order to gain experience. In Sardinia, we had just one car at the finish. In Greece, we need to do better. "