The Citroen Junior Team walks on water in Wales
Despite road conditions that continued to be extremely marginal, the four Citroen Junior Team C4 WRCs carried on making progress throughout the second day of the Rally Great Britain. Petter Solberg and Phil Mills occupy fourth overall in the general classification ahead of Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who are still fifth. The crews of Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt and Aaron Burkart/Michael Kolbach are both in the top 10.
Petter Solberg and Phil Mills started this morning third on the road, but they encountered a problem with their windscreen wipers in heavy rain on SS7. "The wipers only worked on their slowest setting," explained the Norwegian. "As soon as I tried to switch them onto a faster setting, they stopped completely. In certain places, I could see nothing at all. Despite that, we didn't lose too much time. We're going to sort that problem out in service and try to get back in touch with Dani Sordo during the afternoon!"
The 2003 World Rally Champion was as good as his word. He continued to push hard to get closer to the frontrunners and just missed out on a fastest stage time by 1.5 seconds on SS11. "I was quickest on the split times but then I lost my advantage in one of the hairpins," he recounted. "It's only my second day on gravel in the C4 WRC but I am really beginning to feel confident with it now. It's an extremely competitive car and I think I'm getting quicker all the time. I really want to fight with Dani Sordo and get onto the podium tomorrow. That remains my goal."
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended the second day in fifth place, approximately two minutes off the podium, after picking up a puncture yesterday. Today they were able to gain plenty of experience of driving in the tricky conditions that are typical of Wales. "Even with a start position of fifth on the road, the conditions were already very difficult," Ogier reported. "I think the first cars on the road had better grip than we did. We had to be very careful in order not to make any mistakes. This afternoon we had a good set of notes and I was able to push a little harder. These stages are teaching us a lot. We need to continue at this pace tomorrow."
Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt had to cope with stages in bad condition and an unfavourable start position once more on day two. "It was very difficult," said the Zimbabwean. "Our Citroen C4 WRC was perfect but I couldn't quite find the right pace. Things were a bit better for us in the afternoon. I hope we have a better feeling tomorrow so I can set times that are a bit closer to those of the cars in front."
Aaron Burkart and Michael Kolbach continued to rack up the kilometres on their debut with the C4 WRC. The German crew is now 10th overall. "I'm feeling more and more confident with the car," said Burkart. "We're definitely getting there, even though I had a high-speed spin today. I'm trying to keep up a good speed without taking any risks. Tomorrow, we're just going to adopt the same tactics as we did today."
Benoit Nogier, the Citroen Junior Team manager, concluded: "Exactly as was the case yesterday, we've ended today's action with no major problems. Our only mechanical setback has been an issue with the windscreen wiper motor on Petter Solberg's car. He used the wipers a lot on the way to the first stage, and this overheated the motor. A problem like this is particularly troublesome on Rally Great Britain, and that is why he lost time to Dani Sordo today. Our other drivers continued the progress they started on the opening day. Sebastien Ogier consolidated his fifth place, having put in an excellent performance despite his puncture yesterday. Conrad Rautenbach lost time through stalling twice but he made no mistakes and currently holds ninth place. It would be nice for him to end the season with a points finish. As for Aaron Burkart, he is continuing to learn. We hope that his first experience with the C4 WRC on such a difficult event will give him a taste for it again in the very near future!"