The Citroen Junior Team aims to conquer the desert After returning from Scandinavia and Central America, the Citroen Junior Team now heads to the Middle East for the Jordan Rally, round three of the 2010 World Rally Championship.
The Citroen Junior Team aims to conquer the desert
After returning from Scandinavia and Central America, the Citroen Junior Team now heads to the Middle East for the Jordan Rally, round three of the 2010 World Rally Championship. Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Kimi Raikkonen/Kaj Lindstrom will be at the wheel of the two Citroen C4 WRCs, and their objective will be to gain as much experience as possible on a distinctly unusual event.
On Rally Mexico the Citroen C4 WRCs had to compete at an altitude of 2800 metres: now they drop down to stages that are 400 metres below sea level the lowest point in the world on the Jordan Rally. The rally, round three of this year's World Championship, is based on the Red Sea coast and maintains the same general characteristics as it did in 2008, featuring a compact itinerary within a 75-kilometre radius of the service park. The rally will take place over three legs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Just one stage is new (Rumman Forest) while three others are reversed (Wadi Shueib, Yakrut et Bahath) compared to last time. The surface, consisting of hard but flowing gravel, offers a good level of grip.
Sebastien Ogier took part in the Jordan Rally back in 2008 with a Citroen C2 Super 1600, winning the Junior WRC category. "The organisers have come up with a really nice route, which takes in fast and flowing stages," he said. "The surface is hard and gives us good grip. All the landscape in the middle of the desert looks very similar, which is why having good pace notes becomes even more important than it is on other events. Myself and my co-driver Julien will certainly have to pay a lot of attention during the recce."
Sebastien Ogier is third in the World Rally Championship standings with two rounds gone, having finished on the podium in Mexico. His objective in Jordan will be to maintain the same excellent results that he has achieved since the season started. "We knew that we could take nothing for granted and that we had to continue to work hard in order to make more progress," he added. "Jordan is going to be a difficult rally as the characteristics of the stages are quite unusual. But we were able to get a good feeling with the car during some tests before heading off to the recce in Jordan. Our objectives remain the same. It's important not to let anything go to my head and to continue gaining confidence."
Following on from their first gravel rally with the C4 WRC in Mexico, Kimi Raikkonen and Kaj Lindstrom continued getting to grips with the car at a test session in the south of France. "I'm learning more with every kilometre," said Raikkonen. "But what I need most is more experience, and these test kilometres are allowing me to go through the wide range of set-up options that the team has come up with."
The 2007 Formula 1 World Champion is aiming firmly to get to the finish of the Jordan Rally. "I'm still lacking kilometres in rally conditions," he concluded. "On an event that is as specialised as this one, it's vital to cover all the stages. I still need to get used to the Citroen C4 WRC on gravel and find a way of driving that suits my style. We're going to see what the gap is between myself and the frontrunners at the start of the rally and then just try to reduce it bit by bit."
Three questions to... Sebastien Ogier
One of your objectives this year was to fight for podium places and you've already achieved that on the second round in Mexico. Were you surprised by this performance?
"In 2010, we wanted to regularly aim for the top five and maybe fight for podiums on the events that we already knew a bit. So third place in Mexico, an event that we have got past experience of, is an excellent result. Things are still not perfect and we need to keep on working hard, but our results at the start of the season have been very encouraging. There's no reason for us to change our driving style. I've got more and more confidence with the Citroen C4 WRC thanks to the experience we have built up over the course of all the rallies so far."
As was the case in Mexico, you have already participated in Jordan once before with a C2 Super 1600. Does that give you an advantage?
"I don't think that having taken part in the rally just once before with a C2 Super 1600 is really a determining advantage. But let's just say that our lack of experience compared to the other drivers will be less obvious, as they have only taken part in the event once with a WRC car. In any case we will be taking fresh pace notes from scratch, as myself and Julien's system of notes has evolved considerably since then."
What's your objective going to be in Jordan?
"We're not going to change anything in the way we approach every rally. The plan is to gain experience on all types of different terrain. The ideal would be to fight for a podium but a top five result would be very satisfactory as well. It's important to make progress step by step. Jordan has some very specific characteristics. In 2008, it was very hot. The route is extremely challenging, and you need excellent pace notes. For all these reasons, the key thing is to take away as much experience as possible."