Day 2: Ogier makes the difference with the C2 S1600
The Junior World Rally Championship drivers faced the second day of the Rallye Deutschland in fine weather. The route today took in more than 45% of the total competitive distance of the rally. All the stages, split into two loops, took place over the renowned Baumholder military ranges.
Sebastien Ogier put in a faultless performance, claiming seven fastest times out of the eight stages that were on the programme. His consistent and relentless rhythm was reminiscent of another Citroen driver called Sebastien Sebastien Loeb, at the wheel of the C4 WRC. On the second stage of the day, the Equipe de France FFSA-backed driver seized the advantage from Martin Prokop (C2 Super 1600), taking the lead by six seconds. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have therefore been leading the Junior category since this morning, in their C2 Super 1600 prepared by PH-Sport. Unluckily for Prokop, the Czech driver stopped with an alternator failure on SS9, leaving the way clear for Aaron Burkart to claim second in another C2 Super 1600. The German was eventually able to find a good rhythm over the course of the day and set some promising times, despite a few problems in the morning. Following Prokop's retirement, Burkart now leads the C2 Junior Experience classification (as Ogier is not registered for the programme). Prokop is now expected to re-start the final day tomorrow morning under the supeRally system. Shaun Gallagher, currently fourth in the Juniors, had a reasonably satisfying run. Despite not feeling entirely at ease on the German asphalt, the Irishman made steady progress throughout the second leg.
Francesco Fanari finished in a provisional eighth place at the wheel of his C2-R2 MAX. The Italian had a disappointing end to the day's action, as a badly-timed gear change at the start of the final stage led to the gearbox breaking. Finally, Hans Weijs was forced to retire before the action had even started. Yesterday, the Dutch driver had experienced gearbox problems that were fixed at service. On his way to the first stage this morning, Hans noticed that his gearbox was losing oil. He had to stop to fix the problem on the road section, but found himself out of time when he got to the first stage and was subsequently out of the rally. He will start again tomorrow under the supeRally system and hopes for better luck on the final day.
Aaron Burkart (D) Michael Koelbach (D) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" On the first stage, I hit a small tree and picked up a puncture. I then had a few steering issues that cost me a lot of time. It was a real pity, as I had hoped for a strong performance on home territory. Luckily I managed to hang onto my provisional podium place thanks to the times we set on the second run through the stages in the afternoon especially with our fastest time on SS13. I'm really happy to finish in this position tonight. "
Francesco Fanari (I) Fabio Andrian (I) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)
" Asphalt is not my favourite surface by any means and I struggled to get my bearings today. I'm trying to stay in touch with all the other drivers but it's not at all easy. The C2-R2 MAX is helping me a bit as it handles very well, but the stages are really quick and it's hard to keep on the pace. You've always got to be flat-out, and I'm struggling to find the consistency to set good times. To cap it all, I broke the gearbox on the final stage. So I'm hoping that tomorrow brings us better luck... "
Shaun Gallagher (EI) Paul Kiely (EI) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" Today's stages were a bit better for me than those of yesterday. I felt a bit more comfortable, and that allowed me to set third-fastest time on a few occasions. The roads were a bit less slippery than they were yesterday morning, and I felt straight away that I could push a bit harder to climb back up the order. Having said that I'm not completely flat-out as asphalt isn't my favourite surface and I could have done a lot better. I also took a bit too much out of my tyres this morning. That probably cost me some time, but I'm very happy with the way that the day has ended. "
Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" I went well today, despite a small spin on the first loop of stages. After Martin's retirement I had a comfortable margin over Aaron in second, and so I've ended day two with a cushion of more than three minutes. There's no point in taking any risks tomorrow but I've got to make sure that I control my advantage. Today has been quite long and I'm pleased to get to the end of it. I hope we've done enough now to cross the finish ramp at the Porta Nigra in Trier tomorrow afternoon as the winners! "