Leg 1: Simon Jean-Joseph and his C2 ride the storm At the wheel of their CitroÃ«n C2 Super 1600 which is prepared and run by PH Sport with assistance from CitroÃ«n Sport technical staff, Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack BoyÃ¨re are provisionally...
Leg 1: Simon Jean-Joseph and his C2 ride the storm
At the wheel of their Citroën C2 Super 1600 which is prepared and run by PH Sport with assistance from Citroën Sport technical staff, Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack Boyère are provisionally seventh at the end of the opening day of the 2007 Rali Vinho da Madeira, seventh round of the European Rally Championship and fifth encounter of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge.
The first leg of the weekend kicked off yesterday evening with a super-special in Funchal and continued today with a busy programme of nine stages in the mountains that tower over the capital of this mid-Atlantic island . A menu of more than 170km of against-the-clock action awaited the Citroën pair who faced stiff competition from a long list of four-wheel drive cars.
One of the specificities of the island is its changeable weather and Simon and Jack were to suffer from that today. "The first loop was little more than a lottery," explained Simon at the end of the day. "We decided to fit dry weather BFGoodrich tyres but a storm broke out just as we were on the stage! We managed to limit the damage but it was very hairy and we nearly went off several times!" Making the most of the C2 Super 1600's nimbleness and efficiency in these difficult conditions, Jean-Jo succeeded in returning to the service park without excessively denting his chances of a strong result.
And the day wasn't over yet, since the second competitive loop proved equally challenging. "Although the roads were beginning to dry, there were still some lingering damp patches," relates the Frenchman. "Along with the technicians from Citroën Sport and the staff from PH Sport who are present on this event, we decided to switch to a compromise tyre choice. It was risky because it meant we could find ourselves on ill- suited rubber at times, but that's part of the sport! Once again, it turned out to be quite a memorable few kilometres." That, however, didn't prevent the Citroën C2 Super 1600 driver from moving into the lead in the two -wheel drive category and laying the foundations for an impressive come-back.
Thanks to a brace of fastest Group A times and some splendid top times overall (6th on SS5, 7th on SS6, etc.), the 2004 European Champion lived up to his reputation and moved swiftly back into the top-ten. "When the stages don't climb too sharply and where there is less need to accelerate hard out of tight corners, the Citroën C2 S1600 is very competitive and very quick."
A final effort saw Simon ease into overnight seventh overall and also move onto the provisional podium of ERC-registered drivers present in Madeira. "In spite of the problem with the weather, I am very pleased with our day's work. Thanks to the bonus system employed in the European Rally Championship, we already have one point in the bag. Maybe we will score some more tomorrow."