Citroën Racing takes on the Flying Finns on home turf!
1000 lakes, as many forests and a 55-point lead in the Manufacturers’ World Championship - the Citroën Total World Rally Team is tackling the second part of the season in the land of the Flying Finns with a lot of figures to be taken into account. Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena and Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia, respectively first and third in the Drivers’ World Championship, are competing in Rally Finalnd with the aim of continuing to reap a harvest of points. On the Flying Finns’ favourite playground, the Winning French are determined to continue their run of victories.
The second half of the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship is beginning with an away match for the Citroën Total World Rally Team. Sébastien Loeb and Sébastien Ogier are heading for Finland for the Jyväskylä Grand Prix where they will take on a horde of Finnish drivers. Seven have entered for this round of the WRC, including Kimi Räikkönen in the ICE1 Racing Citroën DS3 WRC.
Citroën has already conquered the 1000 Lakes, and its first victory goes back to 1962 when Pauli Toivonen and Jaakko Kallio won in a Citroën DS19. Twenty-six years later, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena scored their first victory on the ultra-quick Finnish roads.
We’re going to be up against highly-motivated rivals who are ready to defend their territory.
In 2011, two Sébastiens will line up for the start determined to win, but also to count their points. “We’re going to be up against highly-motivated rivals who are ready to defend their territory,” emphasizes Sébastien Loeb who has scored 146 points so far. “The titles at the end of the season are still our main priority. Victory in Finland isn’t an out-and-out objective. Depending on how I feel I’ll see how hard I want to push. So far I’ve felt very much at ease on gravel in the DS3 WRC. If that’s how I feel in Finland, it’ll give my confidence an extra boost!”
But the winner of the 2008 rally tones down his words: “It’s not my favourite terrain. Maybe these roads don’t suit my natural style of driving. On the other hand the Finns are very much at home on them. They probably feel they’re taking fewer risks in an environment they know like the back of their hand. I remember that I had to give 200% to win this rally.”
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a big impression on their first outing in the event in a WRC in 2009. Last year, they drove a perfect rally and finished second only ten seconds behind the winner.
“I’m going to do everything I can to be on the pace right from the first stage,” says Sébastien Ogier, who has scored 124 points in seven rallies. “It’s important to bag a big haul of points in Finland. We know it’s going to be a difficult rally against local drivers who are always redoubtable on their home turf. But a victory here isn’t beyond our grasp. My aim is to put myself in a confident frame of mind right from the green light and to really push in the opening kilometers. That’s what was missing last year.”
Rally Finland has a slightly out-of-sync schedule and will begin on Thursday 28th July with three stages of around forty timed kilometers. On Friday and Saturday two legs of 134 and 140 kilometers will sort out the drivers. The Power Stage, broadcasted live on television, will be held on Saturday 30th July at 19h11 (GMT +2).
Please also note that Sébastien Loeb and Kimi Raikkonen will alternate behind the wheel of the DS3 WRC for the Red Bull Road show taking place Sunday 24 July on the Esplanad in Helsinki (from 14:00)
Three questions to Sébastien Ogier
Seven rallies, three victories and third place in the World Championship. How would you assess the first half of the season?
“I’ve scored three victories, but in one event I came away emptyhanded, which cost us dearly. Overall, though, the championship’s got off to a good start. With the exception of Sardinia, we’ve always been in the running for victory. We’re still in with a fair chance of winning the title at the end of the season. It’s very important to make a good start to the second half of the year. Next up are three tarmac rallies. It’ll be a tough task as I’m up against my team-mate, but it’s a great challenge for me.”
It’s your fourth outing in Finland. The roads seem to suit you…
“In 2008, we came to test the waters in a Citroën C2-R2. In 2009, it was a different story with the Citroën C4 WRC. We fought right till the end with the best local privateers and we set a fastest time in the second day. Last year was our first rally in the Citroën Total World Rally Team, and we finished second, ten seconds behind the winner. You need a certain amount of experience in this rally to really get to grips with the roads and avoid the traps. I like the layout of the stages and the high speeds.”
Do you feel ready to beat the Finns on home turf?
"Julien and I are motivated like never before. We know it’s going to be one of the most difficult rallies of the year as we’re up against the Finns. But beating them isn’t impossible. Last year, I was a bit surprised to finish so close to the winner. And we lost the ten seconds at the start of the rally when we were finding our marks.”