The Citroen Junior Team aims to consolidate its pace in Italy The Citroen Junior Team will run three Citroen C4 WRCs for Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt, Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt and Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia at the Rally ...
The Citroen Junior Team aims to consolidate its pace in Italy
The Citroen Junior Team will run three Citroen C4 WRCs for Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt, Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt and Sebastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia at the Rally d'Italia Sardegna, which takes place from May 21-24 around Olbia.
After a trip to South America, the FIA World Rally Championship now returns to Europe. Sardinia hosts the sixth of 12 rounds on the 2009 calendar, with a route that has been slightly shaken up compared to previous years.
Some special stages that have now become classics are still on the menu for this sixth running of the event, such as Loelle and Crastazza on day one, or even Monte Lerno and its crowd-pleasing crest. The new Sa Linea and Fiorenti stages, located closer to the centre of the island, will make a notable feature of the route this year.
Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, the Rally d'Italia Sardegna is often characterised by high temperatures, and it will provide a formidable challenge for drivers and machinery. The Citroen Junior Team is counting on the reliability of its C4 WRCs and the consistency of its crews to make the most of Sardinia, before heading to another hot and challenging rally in Greece a few days later. Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt and Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt will get the chance to score manufacturer points for the Citroen Junior Team in Italy.
Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt were unlucky in Argentina but they are both now eagerly looking forward to the Rally d'Italia: " Argentina was just frustrating for us " said the Zimbabwean. " After finishing fourth there last year, we didn't get a chance to defend our prospects when we retired on the second day. So now it's just a question of putting that rally behind us and concentrating on the challenge Italy. "
Rautenbach has already contested the first five World Championship rounds held in Sardinia, taking part in last year's event at the wheel of a C4 WRC. This event though will mark his 50th participation in a World Championship rally. " I've always liked Sardinia " he said. " It's quite a technical route with some very varied stages. I've already had some good results in Sardinia in the past, and with a bit more experience of the C4 WRC behind me now, it's one of the rallies I am looking forward to most all year. "
Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt gave Argentina a miss but will return to the Citroen Junior Team in Italy: " I'm very happy to be continuing my season with the Citroen C4 WRC " said the young Russian. " We've already learnt a lot since the start of the year. After Cyprus and Portugal, the Sardinia rally is going to allow us to make more progress on gravel. We're going to be discovering the rally for the first time so it's all brand new territory for us. "
Having come back from Argentina with some more points in the bag towards the drivers and manufacturers championships, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be eager to confirm their progress in Sardinia. They contested the event last year as part of their victorious JWRC campaign, and the reigning Junior World Rally Champions are eager to do just as good a job this time round. " It's one of the events that we know a bit, as we drove it in a Citroen C2 Super 1600 last year " commented Ogier. " Now we get the chance to build up a little more experience at the wheel of the C4 WRC. Our goal is simply to drive a consistent rally, without making mistakes, in order to be well placed at the finish. "
The Rally d'Italia-Sardegna will get underway on Friday 21 May in Olbia. The action begins with an initial loop of three stages on Friday morning, which is repeated in the afternoon.
Three questions for Benoit Nogier, Team Manager Citroen Junior Team
Does the Citroen Junior Team have any new objectives at this time?
" Our aim is always to see all our Citroen C4 WRCs at the finish. We will take each day of the rally as it comes, with humility, so that we can learn from our past experience. At the end of every day we will take a good look at where we are and adjust our plans accordingly. "
So gaining experience is a priority for all the crews?
" Our drivers are all very eager to succeed. In Italy, as has been the case since the start of the season, they will have to accumulate experience and build up confidence. Sebastien Ogier showed in Argentina that he could be very consistent and steer clear of mistakes, and we're looking to him to repeat that great form in Italy. The same applies to Conrad Rautenbach, who deserves a good result. Evgeny Novikov now needs to consolidate the promising performance he showed on his last round in Portugal. We really hope to see him at the finish. "
In Italy there will once more be three Citroen C4 WRCs entered; what is the plan for the rest of the Citroen Junior Team's programme this year?
" Conrad Rautenbach will be present with our team on the entire World Rally Championship this season. Evgeny Novikov, who missed Argentina, returns to the Citroen Junior Team on this rally and he will also be in Greece. He is currently looking for backing for the rest of the season. After a strong performance in Argentina, which satisfied the entire team, Sebastien Ogier will also be entered for Greece. He has already shown great potential during the six-event programme that was agreed at the start of the year. We would love to see him in Poland but we still need to find some budget. We are working on that on a rally- by-rally basis. "