Catalunya: Citroen preview

2002 Junior World Championship 38th Catalunya Costa Brava Rally - Rally of Spain (22-24 March) The Saxos are out for revenge The second leg of the Junior championship takes the Super 1600s to the Catalunya Rally, where the Saxo chalked up the...

2002 Junior World Championship
38th Catalunya Costa Brava Rally - Rally of Spain (22-24 March)

The Saxos are out for revenge

The second leg of the Junior championship takes the Super 1600s to the Catalunya Rally, where the Saxo chalked up the first of its five wins in 2001. For the six Citroën teams taking part in the competition, Catalunya is an opportunity to make up for the frustration of Monte-Carlo.

Immediately after the event in Monaco, Citroën Sport took steps to correct the clutch problem experienced by the Saxos. A modified series was put into production. Tested at length, the new parts were fitted on the Saxos that took part in the Boucles de Spa (Belgium championship), the ice race at Ramenskoié (Russian championship) and the Tutto Terra Toscana Rally (Italian championship). No problems were encountered in these events on asphalt, ice and gravel, so it looks as if the Citroëns have regained the reliability that they enjoyed throughout the 2001 season.

Like the WRCs, the Super 1600s will be facing a major undertaking in Catalunya, with no less than 1,949 km, of which 395 timed, in three legs. Each leg takes the form of a loop of three special stages, each of which is covered twice. The main innovation in 2002 is that the first two days have been switched round. The longest leg, which takes competitors over towards Tarragon, will now take place on the Friday, the first day. On the programme is the awesome "Escaladei", a special of more than 48 km.

Citroën Sport is providing the Saxo pilots with technical and sporting back-up. Jean-François Liénéré, head of Customer Competition Programmes, is present in Spain, together with a technician specialising in the Saxo Super 1600.

In the run-up to the Catalunya Rally, the Saxo pilots have not been waiting around. Jussi Välimäki took second place in the Arctic Rally, the opening round of the Finnish championship, with a WRC. Back at the wheel of his Saxo, he dominated the Super 1600 category in the Boucles de Spa (5th in scratch). Janne Tuohino was one of the heroes of the Rally of Sweden, at the wheel of a WRC. He would have taken fifth place if he had not deliberately let the two McRae brothers overtake him. Andrea Dallavilla and Mirco Baldacci took part in the "Tutta Terra Toscana" with the Saxos of the Vieffe Corse team. Andrea fought hard for victory in the Super 1600 category. He lost out by just a few seconds. He then won the second round of the Italian championship "Il Ciocco Rally", while Sven Haaf took his first win for the opening of the German season at the Oberland Rally.

The Saxo drivers: an evenly matched group

Combining youth and experience, the group of Saxo drivers are familiar with the Super 1600 formula and with the world championship. The group appears to be evenly matched with a high level of competence even if none of the drivers was at the wheel of a Saxo last year, with the exception of Sven Haaf, who drove for Citroën Germany in 2001.

No. 51 - Andrea Dallavilla (I) - Giovanni Bernacchini (I) - Scuderia Vieffe Corse

Super 1600 vice-champion in 2001 with one victory (San Remo) and three second places, Andrea (born 7.06.1969 in Brescia) was Sébastien Loeb's main challenger in 2001. The Italian driver (1.68 m - 67 kg) has considerable experience with almost ten years in rally racing, twenty world championship races, an Italian championship title (1997) and two titles as vice-champion (1996 and 1998). Andrea is delighted to be teaming up once more with industrial manufacturer Vittorio Franzoni, a rally enthusiast with whom he worked at the 1992 San Remo event.

No. 56 - Jussi Välimäki (FIN) - Tero Gardemeister (FIN) - Lux Development Technology

Like Dallavilla, Finland's Jussi Välimäki (born 10.09.1974 in Tampere) is also taking part in the event for the second time. He finished the 2001 Super 1600 Championship in ninth place, after coming third in Finland, and retiring five times. With the six rounds last year, Jussi has taken part in eleven world championship events. His best result was 13th place in the 2000 Finland Rally at the wheel of an Escort WRC. In addition to the Junior championship, Jussi, who has been joined this year by experienced co-driver Tero Gardemeister, plans to take part in the rallies of Sweden and Finland with a Toyota Corolla WRC.

No. 62 - Janne Tuohino (FIN) - Petri Vihavainen (FIN) - PH Sport

Current champion of Finland, Janne Tuohino (born 22.05.1975 in Kiiminki) has been a member of the Finnish federation's "coaching team" since 1997. National champion (group N) in 1999, he took an excellent eighth place in the Rally of Finland with an Escort WRC the same year. He has taken part in 15 world championship events, of which the eight most recent at the wheel of a Toyota Corolla WRC. He finished 11th in the Rally of Finland with this car in 2001. In addition to the Junior championship, he plans to take part in two rounds of the world championship with a WRC.

No. 65 - Dani Solà (E) - Alex Romani (E) - PH Sport

Winner of an "asphalt" promotion formula after two seasons, Catalan Daniel Solà (born 03.01.1975 in Vic) was determined at an early stage to hone his skills on different types of surface. With this objective, he took part in a one-design "gravel" formula and finished second. In 2000, he took part in Spain's asphalt championship (champion of the diesel category!) and gravel championship (vice-champion, 2WD category). He did the same in 2001 with a Saxo Kit Car on asphalt (3rd in the championship - 8 wins in F3), and a Cordoba WRC on gravel (5th in championship, two scratch wins).

No. 66 - Mirco Baldacci (RSM) - Maurizio Barone (I) - Scuderia Vieffe Corse

Son of Italy's fastest driver with his Simca Rallye 2, Mirco Baldacci (born 19.09. 1977) comes from the Republica di San Marino. He is considered as one of Italy's most promising young drivers, particularly on gravel. He excelled on this surface with a Clio and proved his talents in 2001 by winning the TIT (Trofeo Italiano Terra), two-wheel drive category, at the wheel of an Opel Astra group N. At the same time, he made his debut in the world championship with a Mitsubishi group N, taking two fourth places (Portugal and Greece) in five races.

No. 70 - Sven Haaf (D) - Michael Kolbach (D) - Lux Development Technology

Born in Hamburg (27.12.1972), Sven Haaf started racing with a Samba, taking part in many slalom events between rallies. In 1996, he took part in the two-wheel drive championship at the wheel of a 309. From 1998 to 2000, he took part in the group N championship with a Mitsubishi. In 2001, he drove one of the two Saxo Kit Cars entered by Citroën Germany in the national rally, in which he reached his objective of taking the F3 title (five wins in seven races). Last year also, these Saxos were in the care of the company run by Willy Lux, so Sven already knows the car and the team.


Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Sébastien Loeb , Sven Haaf , Andrea Dallavilla , Daniel Sola , Mirco Baldacci , Janne Tuohino , Giovanni Bernacchini , Tero Gardemeister , Michael Kolbach , Maurizio Barone
Teams Citroën World Rally Team