The Citroen Junior Team aims to conquer Sapporo The Citroen Junior Team will take the start of the Rally Japan round 10 of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship with two C4 WRCs that will be driven by Dani Sordo / Diego Vallejo and Kimi...
The Citroen Junior Team aims to conquer Sapporo
The Citroen Junior Team will take the start of the Rally Japan round 10 of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship with two C4 WRCs that will be driven by Dani Sordo / Diego Vallejo and Kimi Raikkonen / Kaj Lindstrom.
The Rally Japan gets underway on Thursday 9 September with a superspecial in Sapporo. On Friday 10 September and Saturday 11 September the route will take the crews towards the towns of Tomakomai, Chitose and Eniwa in the south of the island of Hokkaido. The final day, Sunday 12 September, visits the area around Sunagawa, Bibai and Naie, to the northeast of the service park close to Sapporo.
Dani Sordo has taken part in the Rally Japan on three previous occasions, with a best result of second overall in 2007. The Spaniard just missed out on victory by 37.4 seconds on that occasion, having been the best performer of the rally after setting the same number of fastest stage times as Sebastien Loeb.
"I've got some great memories of Japan," said Dani. "It's a long way away but a very beautiful country. The route is really complex though. As a driver you have to be very precise in order to place the car accurately on very narrow roads and the co-driver has a lot of pace notes to get through, which need to be read out with perfect timing. If all those things don't come together you end up either losing a stack of time or going off the road. From start to finish, you need to be really exact."
Dani Sordo is joining the Citroen Junior Team for the last few gravel rounds of the 2010 season, and he is determined to get stuck into the battle with the frontrunners. "I'm going to be giving my all to show that I can drive just as quickly on gravel as I can on asphalt," added the Spaniard.
Kimi Raikkonen has been used to making the trip to Japan throughout his Formula One career, winning the Japanese Grand Prix in 2005, but the gravel stages on the island of Hokkaido are going to be all new to him.
Kimi finished in the points on his last outing, the all-asphalt Rallye Deutschland, and also set the first fastest stage time of his short WRC career to date. He said: "We've not been testing since we finished the Rallye Deutschland. When we get to Japan, I'm going to have to get straight back into the rhythm again. I'm expecting it to be a very tricky event for us. From what I've heard, the Rally Japan is particularly complex. And it's sure to be even more complicated for a beginner like me."
The Finn has been in the points on four occasions from the eight starts he has taken this year, but his objectives remain unchanged. "My targets are exactly the same," he confirmed. "From the first few stages in Japan we will be able to see the pace we can run at. But once more the main thing will be to be there at the end of the rally."
After nine of the 13 events that make up this year's World Rally Championship, Dani Sordo is fifth in the drivers' standings while Kimi Raikkonen is 10th. In the manufacturers' rankings, the Citroen Junior Team lies third with 168 points.
Three questions to... Benoit Nogier
Rally Japan is a particularly demanding event on the World Championship calendar. What are the specifics of the route?
"In the end, all the rounds of the World Rally Championship are complicated. Each rally has its own traits that give every event its unique character. In Japan, the weather is frequently variable. You often drive on quite muddy gravel that quickly forms ruts for the second run. The roads are narrow and extremely technical. Having good pace notes is vital. Once again, the role of the co- driver is fundamental."
Dani Sordo will be contesting his second rally with the Citroen Junior Team. What are you expecting from him?
"We're very pleased to welcome Dani back to the Citroen Junior Team. In Finland, we were particularly pleased by his performance. It was his first rally with a new team for him, but he settled in rapidly. In Japan, Dani has shown himself to be quite competitive in the past. We're hoping that he will be able to do his best again. His objective is to be amongst the top five of the factory drivers."
For Kimi Raikkonen, will the target be any different to the previous rallies?
"Kimi is making progress from rally to rally and he is getting closer to the performance of other drivers who have a lot more experience than him. His most recent performances underline the improvements he has made and he is becoming increasingly more consistent. In Japan we will be competing against other crews who don't have a huge amount of past experience on this route, which is relatively new. If Kimi could repeat the same sort of performance that he has put in on the other rallies that are new to everyone this year, like Turkey or Bulgaria, this would be a great outcome."