Räikkönen, Solberg and Van Merksteijn head for the Middle East
Just as was the case in Portugal, Citroën Racing Technologies will enter three DS3 WRCs on the Jordan Rally. All three crews – Petter Solberg/ Chris Patterson (Petter Solberg World Rally Team), Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström (Ice 1 Racing) and Peter van Merksteijn Jr./Eddy Chevailllier (Van Merksteijn Motorsport) – have different objectives but they share the same goal of wanting to make the most of the DS3 WRC’s strengths on the shores of the Dead Sea.
Three weeks after the Rally of Portugal, the FIA World Rally Championship is striking out into new territory. As the Head of Citroën Racing Technologies Benoit Nogier points out: “The calendar and the logistical constraints surrounding the journey to the Middle East have forced a fairly frantic pace upon us since we finished the Rally of Portugal. As soon as our DS3 WRCs got back to the factory, we stripped them down straight away in order to leave for Jordan in time.”
The tight schedule meant that there was no possibility to organise a test to prepare for the rally. “We would have liked to have tested the new tyres that we will use in Jordan,” added Nogier. “Like the factory teams, we will benefit from an evolution of the Michelin Latitude Cross tyres, which have been designed to be stronger. This means that the shakedown will be vital for us in terms of gathering information. The drivers will need to adapt themselves very quickly to these new developments.”
Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team) has finished the first three events of this year in the points, but he has felt frustrated by not being as far up the order as he would have liked. The Norwegian is hoping to turn the tide in Jordan and fight for his 14th victory at World Championship level. The 2003 World Champion, who has been the best performer since the start of the year thanks to 16 fastest stage times over the three rounds held so far, was on the podium in Jordan last year. Petter, currently fifth in the World Championship rankings, will at least benefit from an advantageous road position on the first day.
Kimi Räikkönen (Ice 1 Racing) is taking part in the Jordan Rally for the second consecutive time. In 2010, the Finn scored his very first World Rally Championship points there after a mistake-free rally. This year, the Ice 1 Racing driver is going to try to get close to the fastest times again over the rapid desert stages. His first gravel rally driving the Citroën DS3 WRC ended up with an encouraging seventh overall in Portugal, so Kimi is now hoping to move gradually closer to the top five on merit.
Peter van Merksteijn Jr (Van Merksteijn Motorsport) got to know the team during his first rally with Citroën in Portugal, and his aim in Jordan is to continue his steep learning curve with the DS3 WRC. On terrain that is totally different to the Algarve and brand new for the young Dutchman, he will have to avoid several deceptive hazards in order to continue building up vital knowledge. Once more he is able to rely upon the experience of his co-driver, Eddy Chevailler, to help him make progress on the demanding stages of the Jordan Rally.