The Citroen Junior Team heads to Germany
The Rallye Deutschland, the second asphalt round of this season, has been eagerly awaited by the Citroen Junior Team. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia make a return to the cockpit of the number 7 C4 WRC and their aim is to consolidate the potential that they showed in Bulgaria. Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom, who naturally feel comfortable on asphalt, have exactly the same objective.
After a very encouraging performance in Bulgaria, the Citroen Junior Team is hoping to do even better on a rally that contains quite different types of asphalt. "Everyone in the team has very good memories of our trip to Bulgaria," commented team manager Benoit Nogier. "Kimi, who had so much to learn this year, showed just what he is capable of on his first asphalt World Championship Rally and Sebastien was very competitive too. However, the Rally Bulgaria was new for everyone. In Germany, we will be up against drivers with plenty of experience of the terrain. So the objective we have fixed for our drivers is not to make any mistakes. I'm sure that our C4 WRCs are capable of some excellent results."
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are currently second in the World Rally Championship for drivers after eight of 13 rounds and they are contesting the Rallye Deutschland for the second time. Their first time in Germany dates from the 2008 season, when they claimed victory in the Junior World Rally Championship classification, driving a Citroen C2 Super 1600.
"Things will be completely different at the wheel of the C4 WRC" said Sebastien. " The route in Germany is very specialised, with one stage in particular that stands out. On Saturday we will drive a stage that is nearly 50 kilometres long twice, on a military range, and that is really going to separate the men from the boys. Generally speaking, one characteristic of the rally is several grip changes. It's important to make a good set of pace notes and work well with your safety crew. The goal is to try and get to the end without making mistakes, hopefully coming close to the pace of Sebastien Loeb who is definitely the man to beat in Germany!"
Kimi Raikkonen has been comfortable with the Citroen C4 WRC on asphalt since he first drove it, and now he will have a new playing field on the challenging stages that run along the shores of the Mosel River.
"This will be another new rally for me," commented Kimi. "On my first asphalt rally with the Citroen C4 WRC, I had a good feeling immediately. The most important thing is for me to get used to driving a WRC car on this surface. From my past experience I can say that I find driving on asphalt a bit more natural, but driving a rally car is still a completely different thing to any form of circuit racing."
Kaj Lindstrom, who has been alongside the former Grand Prix champion since he made his rally debut, is also feeling optimistic. "We're making progress on each rally, which is essential for us this year," he concluded. "Our performance in Bulgaria, on our first asphalt rally, was the most impressive we have put in since the start of the season and I know that there is still plenty more to come from Kimi."
Three questions to... Sebastien Ogier
Has second place at the end of this year's World Rally Championship become an objective for you?
"We're going to try and hang onto this second place. It would be a great result if we finished runner-up in the World Rally Championship. So far we're off to a good start. There are several asphalt rallies ahead of us where we should hopefully be able to stay in front of Jari-Matti Latvala, who is currently behind us in the championship classification."
This will be your first Rallye Deutschland in a WRC car, while there are other drivers who already have seven starts under their belts...
"We know that it's going to be quite a lot more difficult than the rallies we have done recently. Our objective remains to acquire experience while staying humble. This is an event that we do not know very well, as we have only done it once in a C2 Super 1600. On that occasion it went well, as we won the Junior classification. But in a WRC car, things will be completely different. Our goal is to beat the Fords at least and to come as close as we can to the best..."
At the end of this season, you're splitting your time between the Citroen Total World Rally Team on gravel and the Citroen Junior Team on asphalt. Is it tricky switching from one team to another?
"Citroen is like a big family, so the Citroen Junior Team and the Citroen Total World Rally Team are quite close. In Finland, which was my debut in the factory team, everything went extremely well. But it will be very easy to work with my Citroen Junior Team colleagues again. I'm not worried about it at all!"