WRC

JWRC: Citroen Rally Catalunya leg one summary

Leg 1 : Martin Prokop in the leading trio The ceremonial start scheduled for Thursday night in Salou was cancelled, so the 43rd Rally RACC Catalunya only got underway this morning for the Junior drivers. After the rain that fell last night and...

Leg 1 : Martin Prokop in the leading trio

The ceremonial start scheduled for Thursday night in Salou was cancelled, so the 43rd Rally RACC Catalunya only got underway this morning for the Junior drivers. After the rain that fell last night and also at the end of the opening leg, most of the big questions centred around tyre choice.

Today's action for the Juniors consisted of three loops of two stages each, making up a total of 148.05 competitive kilometres. Martin Prokop in the Citroen C2 Super 1600 held his own. The Czech driver, who won this rally last year, was third at the end of leg one having driven carefully in the morning to avoid making mistakes. Conrad Rautenbach started the day with a bad tyre choice, and then never found a good enough feeling to join in the leading Junior group. He returns to service this evening in sixth place. Just behind him, young Spaniard Yeray Lemes (aged 20) drove an excellent opening day of his first World Championship rally. On the second stage of the day he lost some time after breaking his gear lever, but he made the time up as the leg progressed setting a third quickest time on the penultimate stage. He is currenty seventh, 7.6 seconds behind Rautenbach. Aaron Burkart in the final C2 Super 1600 was unlucky on SS3, when he went off the road after getting caught out by some loose gravel. The German found himself below the level of the road, and he took seven minutes to extricate himself. Nonetheless he remains cheerful and optimistic, ending leg one in 15th.

Yoann Bonato dominates the C2-R2 category, just as he did in Finland and Germany. His Citroen is just behind the Super 1600s, in 10th place . Stefano Benoni and Gilles Schammel enjoyed a hectic battle for second place in the category. The Italian got the better of his rival, ending up in 12th overall. Schammel found it hard to find the right rhythm in the opening pair of stages and the closing stage. He broke his clutch cable, which led to a loss of two minutes and resulted in 14th place overnight. Shaun Gallagher finished between them, having driven a cautious opening leg. The newcomer Vilius Rozukas brought up the rear of the category after a puncture in SS4, finishing in 16th place. Finally, the Belgian Raphael Auquier went off the road on the first stage and will not start tomorrow under the SupeRally rules, in order to prepare his C2-R2 for next weekend's Rallye de France Tour de Corse.

Stefano Benoni (I)
Co-driver Alessandro Mari (I) @ (Citroen C2-R2)

" I'm happy with today. Even though my tyre choice on the first and last stages wasn't good, I'm satisfied with my positio. We drove well and dealt with the places that had been made slippery by the rain quite effectively. I'm hoping that the weather tomorrow will be a bit better. "

Yoann Bonato (F)
Co-driver Benjamin Boulloud (F)
(Citroen C2-R2)

" We had problems on the last two loops. The gearbox and the brakes gave us something to think about occasionally, but apart from that everything went well. The stages are nice and I'm really enjoying myself. But I'm surprised by how slow they are sometimes : I expected them to be much quicker. "

Aaron Burkart (D)
Co-driver Michael Kolbach (D)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" The first run through the stages this morning went well. There were a few slippery sections that surprised us. During the second loop I went off the road and we lost a lot of time, as we were actually below the level of the road. Then my front bumper was jammed over the radiator, and I lost even more time trying to remove it. On the last stage, like quite a few people, I was surprised by the rain which made the road very slippery. "

Shaun Gallagher (EI)
Co-driver Clive Jenkins (GB)
(Citroen C2-R2)

" I didn't push this morning : I just drove carefully to avoid any mistakes. Things went better afterwards, but on the last stage I really had problems holding the car onto the line. The rain made the stage extremely slippery, and you had to pay a lot of attention not to go off the road. "

Yeray Lemes (E)
Co-driver Rogelio Pe

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Conrad Rautenbach , Martin Prokop , Aaron Burkart , Gilles Schammel , Michael Kolbach , Yoann Bonato , Benjamin Boulloud , Yeray Lemes
Teams Citroën World Rally Team