The Citroen C2 Super 1600s start as favourites in Trier The Rallye Deutschland is the fifth round of this year's FIA Junior World Rally Championship, marking the first of the asphalt rallies after the opening four events were all held on gravel.
The Citroen C2 Super 1600s start as favourites in Trier
The Rallye Deutschland is the fifth round of this year's FIA Junior World Rally Championship, marking the first of the asphalt rallies after the opening four events were all held on gravel. On this occasion, every Citroen driver entered in the Junior Championship will take the start, forming a grand total of four Citroen C2 Super 1600s and two C2-R2 MAXs.
Germany has always been good to Citroen as since it joined the World Rally Championship in 2002 there has only been one winner of the event: Sebastien Loeb. As far as the Juniors are concerned, Dani Sordo won the rally in 2005 followed by Kris Meeke in 2006 and Martin Prokop in 2007: all of them at the wheel of a Citroen C2 Super 1600. Jean-Francois Lienere, who is in charge of Citroen Sport's customer competition programme, commented: " We start this rally with an advantage as it has been won by a Citroen C2 on the last three occasions. We hope to do the same again this year, as our cars have already shown themselves to be very competitive on both asphalt and gravel. This rally will be the asphalt JWRC debut for the C2-R2 MAX, but it has already shown its capabilities on sealed surfaces this year in the hands of Simon Jean-Joseph. "
This year, the Rallye Deutschland route is slightly different to how it has been in previous years. In total there will be 19 special stages over three days, to the east of the city of Trier. After 365.27 competitive kilometres, the drivers will cross the finish ramp by the famous `Porta Nigra' gate back in Trier on Sunday. " We really hope to return there as the winners, " added Jean-Francois Lienere. " The fact that our three biggest rivals have decided not to nominate this event gives us an even better opportunity, hopefully leaving the way clear for our Citroen C2s in the Super 1600 category. "
Junior World Championship leader Sebastien Ogier, who put in an impressive performance in Finland with the C2-R2 MAX, will be one of the pre-event favourites. The Equipe de France FFSA-backed driver prepared for this event by competing on the Eifel Rally last month in his C2 Super 1600, learning all about the German roads and the nature of the competition. Amongst the drivers who are registered for the C2 Junior Experience (unlike Ogier), Martin Prokop (C2 Super 1600) also starts with an advantage thanks to his victory in Germany last year. The Czech driver is aiming to continue the momentum started by his win on Rally Finland 10 days ago. At the wheel of another C2 Super 1600, Aaron Burkart is also targeting a top finish. The German would dearly love to win his home event after finishing fourth and sixth in previous years. Shaun Gallagher who is currently third in the championship, just four points behind Sebastien Ogier is also hoping for a strong performance so that he can score enough points to stay in touch with the title race.
Despite his young age, Hans Weijs (Citroen C2-R2 MAX) is no stranger to this event. In fact, the Dutchman is starting his third Rallye Deutschland this year, with the firm aim of winning the R2 category. His key rival, in an identical Citroen C2-R2 MAX, will be Francesco Fanari. The Italian is aiming for a solid result on the asphalt of Germany, having set some promising times in Finland.
Quotes before the Rallye Deutschland
Aaron Burkart (D) Michael Koelbach (D) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" In terms of putting in a good performance, the Rallye Deutschland is a case of now or never for me. I'd be even more delighted to have a good run on this rally than any other event, as it's home territory for both me and my co-driver. Over the last two years we've scored some solid results in Germany with a fourth and sixth place but this time I want to get onto the podium. At this point in the season, it's important to score as many championship points as possible. "
Francesco Fanari (I) Fabio Andrian (I) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)
" I've not been very lucky at the start of the season on gravel, so I hope we can be slightly more fortunate now on asphalt. Our good performance in Finland, leaving aside the first day, gives me reason to be optimistic for the rest of the year though. It's very important to have a trouble-free run in Germany, both for my team and also for me, so that I can build up a bit more experience. I know though that Hans [Weijs] is a talented driver with some past experience of this rally. "
Shaun Gallagher (EI) Paul Kiely (EI) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" I've not got a lot of experience of this rally. I've also not driven on asphalt yet so far this year, as unfortunately I haven't had the time to go testing. Germany is very different to other asphalt events as the grip levels are constantly changing. Last year I was 10th in a Citroen C2-R2 and this year I'm back with a C2 Super 1600 car. I hope to do a good job in order to maintain my place in the championship, but I know for sure that the other Citroen drivers will put up some extremely stiff competition. "
Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)
" I think the Rallye Deutschland will be quite a difficult event. The weather conditions are always changing and that will make it quite difficult for us to find good and consistent grip. Although there's a high-quality field, I still think a podium is possible. Our key rivals will be absent, but the other C2 Super 1600 drivers are certain to provide some stern opposition for the top places. Given our position in the championship, we can't afford to make any mistakes. So our goal will be to finish as high up the order as we can, without attempting the impossible! "
Martin Prokop (CZ) Jan Tomanek (CZ) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
" I'm really looking forward to this event! After winning in Germany last year and winning in Finland 10 days ago, I'm determined to try and win the Rallye Deutschland again. Having said that, while Molder, Sandell and Koscuiszko won't be there, there are several other C2 Super 1600s that can win. Whatever happens, I need to score as many points as possible so that I can make up the ground lost at the start of the year and improve on my current sixth position in the championship.. "
Hans Weijs (NL) Hans Van Goor (NL) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)
" I'm well-prepared for this rally so I hope to come away with a good result. We did some testing a few days ago and I think I've found a good set-up now. I've also got a bit of prior knowledge of this event, thanks to having competed on the Rallye Deutschland before. I feel more confident generally on asphalt, which will hopefully allow me to get my C2-R2 MAX into the points. "