The Citroen Junior Team aims high The line-up of Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt and Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia will defend the honours of the Citroen Junior Team on the Rally Argentina, at the wheel of their familiar Citroen C4 WRCs....
The Citroen Junior Team aims high
The line-up of Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt and Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia will defend the honours of the Citroen Junior Team on the Rally Argentina, at the wheel of their familiar Citroen C4 WRCs. This first rally of the season held outside of Europe is set to be a real endurance test for the entire team.
The World Rally Championship now crosses the Atlantic for the only South American round of the 2009 calendar. The Citroen crews will be greeted with a warm welcome like no other when they make the trip to Rally Argentina, based close to Cordoba.
Villa Carlos Paz, which is home to Rally Headquarters, is located in the Punilla Valley, where the first and the third days of the event will take place. On Saturday, the rally will visit the Traslasierra region with the legendary El Mirador-San Lorenzo, Mina Clavero-Giulio Cesare and El Condor-Copina stages: true icons of the World Rally Championship that soar to more than 2140 metres in altitude. Unlike last year's event, the rally will get underway on Thursday 23 April with a new spectator superspecial stage held in Cordoba Stadium.
By the side of the stages, there is an unmissable atmosphere. Hundreds of thousands of fans enthusiastically line the route to see their heroes in action; a well-known hallmark of the Rally Argentina.
This event is also where Conrad Rautenbach will return to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs. In 2008, the Zimbabwean claimed a brilliant fourth place despite atrocious driving conditions. " That was incredible result for only my second rally with the Citroen C4 WRC " said Conrad. " The conditions were really terrible, due to heavy rain. Nonetheless we managed to overcome all the obstacles to finish fourth: my best result on the World Rally Championship. There really is a unique atmosphere on the Rally Argentina. Even in the rain, there were so many spectators there. They light barbecues and really enjoy themselves following the rally for the whole day. It's a great event, but I'm just hoping that it doesn't rain again this year! "
For the first time, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be nominated to score manufacturer points for the Citroen Junior Team. " I had my first taste of Argentina last year, when I came over to do the recce " commented Sebastien. " The stages are really good and extremely varied. This is the sort of rally where accurate pace notes will be absolutely vital. The fact that I am nominated for points will not change my approach at all though. My objective will be to get to the finish without making mistakes in order to show that I can be consistent. "
Olivier Quesnel, Citroen Sport's team principal, concluded: " Having already amply demonstrated their speed, our drivers will now have to display their consistency and resilience. Getting to the finish has to be the primary objective for all our crews. "
Three questions for... Sebastien Ogier
Which conclusions can you draw from the Portugal Rally?
" The positive thing is that we were able to put in some quick stage times and good performances during the course of the event. On the other hand, we made a small mistake on Saturday morning that cost us an entire day of rallying. I was really annoyed with myself after that. We had a competitive car throughout the weekend, and I very much wanted to thank the whole team with a good result. So it was disappointing that we were not able to do so. "
After these first four rallies, which are the key areas where you think that you can make more progress?
" I think that we have shown our ability to set fast stage times on every rally, but we are still missing something in terms of consistency. We need to get to the end of an event without making mistakes. This requires a lot of consistency. I think we're paying for our lack of experience at the start of the season now, but hopefully this will get better as we accumulate more kilometres. We're going to try to be a bit more precise and careful when it comes to taking our pace notes during the recce. One of the keys to success in the World Rally Championship is having flawless notes, because at this level no mistakes go unpunished. "
You are going to be nominated to score manufacturer points for the Citroen Junior Team in Argentina. Does this create any additional pressure?
" My approach will not change. I know what is expected of me and I am going to work hard in order to ensure that I respect those orders. Once more, my goal is to be at the finish in order to build up more experience without making mistakes. I was lucky enough to do the recce for the Rally Argentina last year. There are some amazing stages out there and some really enthusiastic fans. "