Citroen Junior Team enjoys the snow and ice
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the day fifth and solidly kept their position throughout the second day of the Rally Sweden. Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom suffered a delay yesterday but strung together an encouraging series of top 10 stage times to accumulate a bit more experience behind the wheel of their Citroen C4 WRC.
The second day of the Rally Sweden got underway at 06:00 this morning, with temperatures dipping below -20C.
On the first special stage of the day, the rear wing of Sebastien Ogier's Citroen C4 WRC detached itself, leaving the crew with a noticeable lack of rear downforce. "I've got no idea about how this happened, but the car became very difficult to drive at high speed," he reported. "I made sure that I didn't take any risks in order to be sure of making it back to service safely. The important thing now is to hang onto our fifth place until the end."
Starting 12th on the road, Kimi Raikkonen headed off to the stages eager to learn as much as possible about his new craft. Despite a couple of errors of no real consequence, the Citroen Junior Team driver racked up more kilometres and was able to provide valuable feedback to the technical team.
"Kimi is beginning to build up a good feeling with his Citroen C4 WRC," explained his Citroen Junior Team engineer Cedric Mazenc. "He has been able to get close to the times of drivers who are far more experienced than he is in the WRC. Kimi is convinced that 80% of the improvement he could make in performance will come from his actual driving rather than adjusting the car. So he is simply following the usual path that people making their first steps in rallying usually take."
After a half-hour service halt, Sebastien Ogier set off once more for the stages with a perfectly balanced C4 WRC this time. Having posted fifth-fastest time in Vargasen (SS13) the former Junior World Rally Champion decided to hang onto his original set of tyres for the next stage, in order to keep some new tyres for the final long stage of the loop.
As it turned out, the conditions did not favour this strategy. Despite having new tyres on the front, the C4 WRC proved tricky to drive with worn rear tyres. Sebastien Ogier made the same observation as Sebastien Loeb: "We weren't far off doing something very good but the rear tyres did not hold up sufficiently well. The main thing is that we've held onto our place and that's what we need to continue doing tomorrow. Fifth would be a great result for our first time in Sweden."
Kimi Raikkonen remained focussed on his target but upped his pace towards the end of the day. "I'm getting a better feeling with the Citroen C4 WRC all the time," said Kimi. "But I still need to understand the aspects of my driving that I must improve. We're looking at the split times to see where we are compared to everyone else. This is very good for my experience. I'm happy about the way our day has gone."