JWRC: Citroen Rally Catalunya preview

Citroen on the hunt for more titles The Rally RACC Catalunya is being run for the 44th time this year, and it will also host the sixth round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. All the C2 Junior Experience drivers will be present, as...

Citroen on the hunt for more titles

The Rally RACC Catalunya is being run for the 44th time this year, and it will also host the sixth round of the FIA Junior World Rally Championship. All the C2 Junior Experience drivers will be present, as well as Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who will be aiming to maximise their chances of clinching the Junior World Championship title this season. Five Citroen C2 Super 1600s will take the start, along with two examples of the C2-R2 MAX.

The Catalunya Rally has undergone a number of changes compared to last year, which means that 45% of the route is new. In total the crews will cover 1313.99 kilometres, 353.62 of which are competitive. Rally headquarters is unaltered, at the Port Aventura theme park in Salou. Jean-Francois Lienere, who is in charge of Citroen Sport's customer competitions programme, explained: " Catalunya is definitely going to be a decisive event for the championship. Luckily our cars have always been competitive in Spain, with Dani Sordo winning the Juniors here in 2005 and Martin Prokop emerging on top in 2006. "

Sebastien Ogier, Shaun Gallagher and Aaron Burkart currently occupy the top three places in the Junior Championship and will all be hoping for a top performance in order to maintain their positions. Martin Prokop, who won the Spanish event in 2006 and finished second in 2007, will be targeting another podium finish as revenge for the last Junior round, the Rallye Deutschland in mid-August, where he was forced to retire. In addition, the Spanish motorsport federation will be entering an extra car for a young local driver. " Just as they did last year, with Yeray Lemes, the Spanish federation has shown faith in Citroen by entering a Citroen C2 Super 1600 for Sergio Perez, " said Jean- Francois Lienere. " This car will be backed by Auto Gomas, an important Citroen dealer that also supported Dani Sordo's successful 2005 Spanish Championship campaign in a C2 Super 1600. "

Spain will be just as much of a crucial event for the Citroen C2-R2 MAX drivers. They will need to steer clear of any mistakes to be sure of scoring vital points for the championship. " Catalunya is traditionally a very quick rally and the stages tend to be quite clean, " added Jean-Francois Lienere. " It will be important for the competitors to stick to the correct line to avoid punctures. I'm confident though that the reliability of our cars will allow us to score some good points on this rally. "

Citroen C2-R2 MAX driver Francesco Fanari will start this event with a particular boost. As Jean-Francois Lienere pointed out: " Having won the rookie category on the last round in Germany [for competitors in their first year of the championship, driving anything other than a Super 1600 car] Francesco has now already claimed the rookie title with two rounds left to go. He will have to push hard in Spain though if he wants to claim his final R2 win of the season, as the final round in Corsica is not on his programme. Finally, Hans Weijs will be concentrating on putting the setbacks he experienced in Germany behind him with a strong performance on Spanish asphalt just one week before the championship draws to a close in Corsica. "

Quotes...before the Catalunya Rally

Aaron Burkart (D) Michael Koelbach (D) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" I really like the Catalunya Rally. The stages are quick, the lines are clean, and we get a great deal of grip out of the cars on the stages. My objective for this penultimate round of the season will be to be quicker than Kosciuszko. So I need to get a good result here to be sure of being in a strong championship position before Corsica. "

Francesco Fanari (I) Daniele Benedetti (I) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)

" I'm starting this rally with a title already under my belt, which is good. Of course I'm very pleased to have it, but I would have preferred to have experienced a better season in terms of results. I'm sure that things will look up next year. In the meantime, Spain will be my last rally of this season. I don't know the route at all, but it seems very quick with clean and wide roads. The tricky thing I think will be knowing where to take the corner cuts: there could be a number of traps to look out for. "

Shaun Gallagher (EI) Paul Kiely (EI) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" I'm hoping for a strong result in what will be my final Junior round, as Corsica is not on my programme this year. This means that Spain is my last chance to be sure of a good place in the final Junior World Rally Championship classification. I need to score as many points as possible preferably by finishing in the top three to keep my podium place at the end of the year. Whatever happens, this has been an extremely useful season for both me and my team. The performance of my Citroen C2 Super 1600 has allowed me to step up a gear, and I want to finish 2008 on a positive note in Spain. "

Sebastien Ogier (F) Julien Ingrassia (F) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" This event could well mark an important milestone in my career. I'm going to try everything possible to finish in front of Aaron Burkart and Michal Kosciuszko, who are my key championship rivals. A win would allow me to claim the title before the final round in Corsica, so there is a lot of pressure on my shoulders. These stages will be all new to me, as I have only ever been to the Catalunya Rally as a spectator, but competing on the Corte Rally in Corsica two weeks ago definitely helped to refine my asphalt technique. "

Sergio Perez (E) Oriol Julia (E) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" I'm really pleased to have the chance to compete on my home event with a C2 Super 1600. It's a very reliable car, which all the Spanish drivers like a lot. I hope to do a good job by finishing on the Junior podium if possible. I know the Catalunya stages quite well. The roads are very quick, so it will be important to have good pace notes to feel as confident as possible. I hope that this event and the next one in Corsica will give me some good experience for my future career, as I would like to do a whole season of the Junior World Rally Championship in a C2 Super 1600. "

Martin Prokop (CZ) Jan Tomanek (CZ) (Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" Catalunya is a rally where I feel at home. The stages are a bit like a racing circuit and there is plenty of grip through all the corners. It's also an easier event on the car than many of the gravel rallies. I've had some very good results in Spain over the last couple of years, winning in 2006 and finishing second in 2007. I'd like another podium place this time, but I've not actually had much time to prepare for the rally. I'm hoping that my previous experience will give me a good idea about what is in store for this penultimate round of the championship. "

Hans Weijs (NL) Hans Van Goor (NL) (Citroen C2-R2 MAX)

" I hope that Catalunya will be a good rally for me. I think that the weather is going to be good, so the roads should be clean. I'm counting on my C2-R2 MAX to handle well on asphalt, which on the whole I prefer to gravel. As the end of this year's championship is very close, I'm aiming just to get to the finish of this rally in order to increase my experience of the Junior World Rally Championship with the Citroen C2-R2 MAX. "

-credit: citroen

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers Oriol Julia , Jan Tomanek , Martin Prokop , Aaron Burkart , Sergio Perez , Hans Weijs , Michal Kosciuszko , Sébastien Ogier , Julien Ingrassia , Yeray Lemes , Francesco Fanari
Teams Citroën World Rally Team