Leg 1: Citroen Juniors on the loose... At the end of a surprisingly rough and rocky first day of the Rally Portugal, round two of this year's Junior Rally Championship, Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach is the leading C2 Junior Experience driver with...
Leg 1: Citroen Juniors on the loose...
At the end of a surprisingly rough and rocky first day of the Rally Portugal, round two of this year's Junior Rally Championship, Zimbabwean Conrad Rautenbach is the leading C2 Junior Experience driver with eighth place overall in the Junior classification. The 23 year-old lost time with a puncture and an off-road excursion in the morning, but he at least got to the finish of the first day's hotly-contested action. Others were not so lucky: Gilles Schammel from Luxembourg was off on the first stage, while Martin Prokop was challenging for the overall lead in the morning before a series of rolls in the afternoon stopped the Czech driver in his tracks. Stefano Benoni was another driver to hit problems but the Italian will be back again tomorrow.
Raphael Auquier (B) Cedric Pirotte (B) (Citroen C2-R2)
"This morning was not at all easy for me, as I lost the power steering on the first stage and then I had to fight with the car all morning until we were able to reach service at midday and have the system fixed. Even though the C2 is a small car, it is still heavy without power steering! In the afternoon I really enjoyed myself and I had no real problems, but my biggest handicap is my lack of experience. I am here to learn, and hopefully get quicker as the rally goes on."
Stefano Benoni (I) Enrico Cantoni (I) (Citroen C2-R2)
"Things were going generally well for us, but on the first stage we went straight on at a junction, which cost us some time and opened up the front-left wheel slightly. Then on the second stage, the suspension arm broke on a straight I think it had been damaged by the problem on stage one. We were forced to stop right there, but we look forward to coming back and trying to set some quick times tomorrow."
Shaun Gallagher (IRL) Clive Jenkins (GB) (Citroen C2-R2)
"We started off at a good pace in the morning, but actually we kept catching the car in front of us on the stages which meant that we had to slow down all the time because of all the dust. In the afternoon we got a two -minute gap from him, so we were able to drive at a much better pace. It's the first time I have ever driven this car on gravel, but our experience from the Rally Norway round one of the championship has allowed us to start to get a proper feeling for the car now."
Martin Prokop (CZ) Jan Tománek (CZ) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"This morning things were going very well indeed: I had a really good feeling wi th the car and I had a lot of confidence to push hard. Unfortunately, it all went wrong on the first stage of the afternoon : we cut a corner about 200 metres from the end of the stage, hit some rocks, and then rolled five times I think. Two other cars went off there as well. I had a bit of a headache afterwards so I went to hospital for a check-up, but I don't think it's anything serious..."
Conrad Rautenbach (ZW) David Senior (GB) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)
"It was quite a dramatic start to the rally for us: we had an off in the shakedown and then we had a front-right puncture on the third stage. With 10 kilometres to go we decided to drive on, but unfortunately we went off as it was really hard to steer the car. We were stuck on the edge of the road and we were lucky to get out, as I thought we might roll. In total we lost a minute and a half but the afternoon was better. We thought we would save on tyres by not changing them for the penultimate stage: it was probably the wrong decision as they were worn down to the canvas by the end. Then for the final stage we had no brakes, but at least we're still here."
Dominique Rebout (F) Isabelle Galmiche (F) (Citroen C2-R2)
"I have achieved my first objective, as I am still here at the end of the first day! This is my very first rally on gravel, so today I drove in the middle of the road and tried to avoid making any mistakes. Physically, it's a much bigger effort than driving on asphalt. I am not really looking at the stage times: I just want to get to the finish and learn more about the car and this surface."
Gilles Schammel (L) Renaud Jamoul (B) (Citroen C2-R2)
"After a few kilometres of the first stage this morning I went off on a corner and rolled: I really don't know why, or understand what happened. I'm very disappointed as I thought we had a good chance here. The mechanics are fixing my car now and my intention is to be back tomorrow."