Sebastien Ogier second in Spain Underlining once more their adaptability to new terrain, Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia and the Citroen Junior Team ended day one of the Rallye de EspaÃ±a in second place. Following an opening leg that was held...
Sebastien Ogier second in Spain
Underlining once more their adaptability to new terrain, Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia and the Citroen Junior Team ended day one of the Rallye de España in second place. Following an opening leg that was held on a mixed gravel and asphalt surface, the French crew brought their gravel- specification Citroen C4 WRC home just 3.8 seconds behind World Champions Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena.
After a long road section, the real competition started with a crucial stage this morning. The 35.94- kilometre Terra Alta test already promised to establish a significant initial order.
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started second on the road and soon had to deal with conditions that were particularly delicate. "The roads were slippery with some early-morning damp and there was thick fog in certain places," reported Sebastien. "I tried to drive neatly, but I still had one or two moments..."
The Citroen Junior Team crew set third-fastest time and reinforced their position on the second special stage of the day, which was 100% gravel. On the next stage, Les Garrigues (SS3), they overhauled Jari- Matti Latvala. Sebastien declared himself satisfied with his second place at the end of the opening loop.
"We didn't think we would be this far up the order after the first few stages," he said. "In theory our start position wasn't particularly advantageous, but as it turns out the gaps separating everyone are quite small. We need to carry on like this, pull out a gap over our pursuers, and try to get a little bit closer to Seb."
Just as he promised, Sebastien Ogier launched a big attack on the second run through Terra Alta. He emerged from the test with his first fastest time of the rally, having taken 8.5 seconds from Sebastien Loeb on that stage alone.
Thanks to a set-up that suited the conditions particularly well, the no.7 Citroen C4 WRC was able to keep up with Sebastien Loeb on the last two stages, while extending the gap to those behind. "We've worked well together with the Citroen Junior Team," said Sebastien Ogier. "The slight oversteer that we had this morning was dialled out perfectly at the service halt. We feel a bit more comfortable now, with better grip. My C4 WRC was just perfect throughout the second loop of stages."
After a long 75-minute evening service, the Citroen C4 WRC entered parc ferme in asphalt configuration, ready for the next two days of rallying.
"We're going to try to stick with Seb on asphalt," outlined Sebastien Ogier. "The objective is just to stay in touch. We've refined our notes well during the recce and I hope that this is going to pay off for us tomorrow."
Team manager Benoît Nogier concluded: "We really thought that we were going to suffer with road sweeping today. But it turned out to be less of a handicap than we thought it would be following the recce, to the point that not only is Sebastien runner-up at the moment, but he's also just three seconds off Loeb. That's very encouraging for the rest of the weekend. The team has done a very good job that paid off during the afternoon loop of stages. Now, our goal is to maintain this second place all the way to the end, keeping the championship runner-up spot in mind as our goal for the season."