The Citroen Junior Team off to a solid start Thanks to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in fourth place currently just 6.2 seconds off third - along with Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom in the top 10 at the end of the opening day, the Citroen...
The Citroen Junior Team off to a solid start Thanks to Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in fourth place currently just 6.2 seconds off third - along with Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom in the top 10 at the end of the opening day, the Citroen Junior Team has made a solid start in Germany.
After the traditionally popular ceremonial start in front of the Porta Nigra a city gate that dates from Roman times - the Rallye Deutschland got underway this morning from Trier for an opening day that consisted of 134.04 competitive kilometres, made up of two challenging loops of three stages.
On consistently dry roads, with temperatures peaking at 27o.C during the afternoon, the Citroen Junior Team opted for soft tyres on the first loop of stages, followed by hard tyres for the second loop. In fact, all the leading drivers made exactly the same tyre choice on day one.
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia set off running second on the road and used the opening day to get to grips with their Citroen C4 WRC on this specialised event. "It was quite a difficult morning," said the Frenchman at midday service. "From time to time the engine kept stalling on hairpin bends. It meant that I wasn't able to build up full confidence on these roads and I never really found the ideal pace. We're setting the same sort of times as our direct competitors, and our plan is to try and do a bit better this afternoon."
On the second loop of stages, Sebastien Ogier increased his pace in order to overhaul Mikko Hirvonen and get closer to Jari-Matti Latvala's third place. "The afternoon was good," added Ogier. "The car was perfect and I was able to go quickly. Now we need to continue like this. If we were able to get a podium, that would be a fantastic result for our first Rallye Deutschland in a WRC car."
Kimi Raikkonen got off to a sensible start on what was only his second World Championship asphalt rally. "My priority was not to make any mistakes; this is also the objective for the whole rally," he said. "The drivers at the front are setting a really quick pace, but I'm here to learn and make progress. The first loop of stages allowed me to get off to a good start and get used to using the handbrake on the many hairpin bends."
The Finn's step-by-step approach paid dividends. He improved his times by 0.7, 0.6 and then 1.0 seconds per kilometre over each of the three stages respectively in the afternoon. " We're picking up a better pace, " said the former Grand Prix champion. " I felt comfortable in the Citroen C4 WRC and I was able to go a bit quicker without taking any risks. Tomorrow the stages will be very difficult and once more entirely new to me. We'll have to see how it all goes. "
Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier concluded: " Leaving aside the small mechanical problem that cost him around 15 seconds or so this morning, Sebastien Ogier has once more had a great first day. He's heading towards third place behind the two factory Citroens, which are in a league of their own here. A podium would be an amazing result for his debut in Germany with the C4 WRC. Kimi Raikkonen is going up against drivers who already know this event very well. He paid for that lack of experience in the morning but made a lot of progress this afternoon and didn't make any mistakes. Now he needs to carry on like this. "