JWRC: Citroen Tour de Corse preview

Last round for the Citroen drivers Coming straight after the Catalunya Rally, the C2 Junior Experience drivers will have their last outing of the year on the Rallye de France -Tour of Corsica, based in Ajaccio. For the final round of the Junior...

Last round for the Citroen drivers

Coming straight after the Catalunya Rally, the C2 Junior Experience drivers will have their last outing of the year on the Rallye de France -Tour of Corsica, based in Ajaccio. For the final round of the Junior Championship, Citroen will make up a large part of the Junior field, with eight drivers entered. Only Shaun Gallagher will not start this rally, having already competed on his six obligatory events (out of seven) on the Junior Championship. The Irishman already claimed the FIA rookie title on the last round in Catalunya.

Contrary to Catalunya, where the crews competed on a route that was practically identical to last year's, in Corsica 60% of the route will be new. Only the stages on the third leg have been used before. By contrast, the 12 stages that make up the first two legs are new.

Yoann Bonato will graduate to the top level of the Junior Championship when he drives a Citroen C2 Super 1600. Having scored top results in Finland, Germany and Catalunya where he dominated the R2 category, the Frenchman will now drive one of the Citroen C2 Super 1600 cars run by PH Sport. Yoann should be able to fight with the leading lights of the Junior Championship on territory that he contested last year with the "Equipe de France FFSA". He could well cause trouble amongst the frontrunners, judging by his performance last year where he set fastest stage times in his class on every single one of the final day's tests. " This last round of the year's championship should be a highlight, particularly with Yoann in a C2 Super 1600, " said Yves Matton, Citroen Sport's Customer Competitions Manager. " He knows the terrain well and should be able to repeat his fastest times of last year on this event. "

The other PH Sport driver, Conrad Rautenbach, will be one of the favourites before the start of the event. Following his third place last year, the Zimbabwean hopes to be once more on the podium of his favourite event. " Conrad needs to put in another performance like last year, " said Yves Matton. " It's a surface that suits him well and he should feel more at ease than he did in Catalunya." But Martin Prokop, who has previous experience of Corsica, will also be aiming for a top result. The Czech, who is anxious to maintain his third place in the Junior Championship, will be giving his all right up to the last kilometer of the 16th and final stage. " Martin already has one asphalt victory behind him this year and he will be doing everything to assure his third place in the championship, " commented Yves Matton. " If that works out for him, he can look forward to a test session in a Citroen WRC. " Finally Aaron Burkart is starting this rally for the second time and he hopes to improve his performance from last year. Yves Matton believes that " he is getting quicker and quicker on asphalt. He will need to continue like this in order to get the job done in Corsica. " Rautenbach, Prokop and Burkart all have a mathematical chance of finishing on the third step of the final podium of the overall Junior Championship. But the advantage currently lies with Martin Prokop, who has been scoring points systematically throughout the year.

In the C2-R2 section there will be a straight fight to the finish for the top places, with Shaun Galllagher and Yoann Bonato no longer on the scene. Gilles Schammel will be the only driver to have previously contested the event and so he will have an advantage over his rivals. Raphael Auquier, Stefano Benoni and Vilius Rozukas will be getting their first taste of the Corsican stages and so will start on an equal footing. " Stefano Benoni, Raphael Auquier and Gilles Schammel will be keen to consolidate their performances over the course of the season on this event, " said Yves Matton. " For his part, Vilius Rozukas will need to continue his learning programme with the C2-R2 on asphalt. "

Citroen Sport will present the latest version of the C2-R2 in Corsica: the C2-R2 Max. The car will be presented on Thursday 11 October at 14h00, in the Pont de la Pierre test centre near Cauro (Corse du Sud).

Quotes before Rallye de France Tour de Corse

Raphael Auquier (B)
Co-driver Cedric Pirotte (B)
(Citroen C2-R2)

" I'm very keen to get going here after my problems in Catalunya. This rally will allow me to quickly forget about the mistake I made there. I don't know the stages but I think it will be a particularly difficult rally. Still, I am determined to fight and try to win the class. I've got a bit less distance under my belt than the other drivers as I went off the road during the first leg in Spain. "

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

" It's the first time I have taken part in this rally. I hope to have a good rally after setting s ome promising times in Spain before I retired. I'd like to continue this upward curve in Corsica, given that my feeling with the car is much better now. I think this confidence will give me the opportunity to start off strongly from the word go... "

Yoann Bonato (F)
Co-driver Benjamin Boulloud (F)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" I'm hoping that it won't take me long to get used to the Citroen C2 Super 1600. I've got no way of telling where I will end up in the overall classification, as it all depends on my feeling with the car. The leading drivers in this category will just have come off the back of the Catalunya Rally, so I'm not sure if I will be able to fight with them. In any case, I'm going to do my best to finish as high up as I can. I saw that the stages where I set quickest times last year are still on the route for this year, which is good news for me. "

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

" It's a new asphalt rally for me. I hope to do as well or possibly better than I did in Spain. But the Corsican stages are hardly the same. They're not as clean as the stages in Spain and the corners tend to be longer. The weather is equally uncertain there though, especially at this time of year. "

Martin Prokop (CZ)
Co-driver Jan Tomanek (CZ)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" I don't think this rally is as good as the preceding one. The Corsican roads are more twisty and not as quick. Nonetheless, I want to try and maintain the pace that the leaders set from the start of the rally and put myself amongst the frontrunners which is what I have to do if I want to maintain my third place in the Junior Championship. "

Conrad Rautenbach (ZW)
Co-driver David Senior (GB)
(Citroen C2 Super 1600)

" The Tour de Corse is my favourite asphalt rally. The stages are really nice and I hope to set some good times. I need to score as many points as possible to be as high up in the championship as I can. It's still possible to end up third, so we'll see where we're placed in the Junior Championship at the end of the rally. "

Vilius Rozukas (LT)
Co-driver Audrius Shosdas (LT)
(Citroen C2-R2)

" I've never started this rally before and so it will be the first time for me on these Corsican roads. I hope to do just as well as I did in Catalunya, or even better, with my Citroen C2-R2. I'm going to continue learning the car and gaining as much experience as possible on asphalt as my favourite surface is gravel. "

Gilles Schammel (L)
Co-driver Renaud Jamoul (B)
(Citroen C2-R2)

" When I competed here last year I saw that the stages were nice, even though they were less well suited to our car than those in Catalunya. My objective will be to have fun on this rally, but I'm also hoping for the class win. Shaun and Yoann won't be there, but even if they had been I believe that we could have competed with them. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to go all the way to the end of the rally in Catalunya. "

-credit: citroen.com

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About this article
Series WRC
Drivers David Senior , Conrad Rautenbach , Jan Tomanek , Martin Prokop , Aaron Burkart , Gilles Schammel , Renaud Jamoul , Yoann Bonato , Benjamin Boulloud , Yves Matton
Teams Citroën World Rally Team