Ogier and Ingrassia in the lead group At the end of the first day of Rally New Zealand, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia occupy third place overall after notching up four fastest stage times. The Citroen Junior Team crew is just 3.9 seconds...
Ogier and Ingrassia in the lead group
At the end of the first day of Rally New Zealand, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia occupy third place overall after notching up four fastest stage times. The Citroen Junior Team crew is just 3.9 seconds behind the leader at the end of 159 competitive kilometres.
The opening day of the Rally New Zealand got underway on Friday morning. The crews left the service park in Auckland at 0715 for a route that took them to the extreme north of the country.
From the opening stage (Waipu Gorge), Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were amongst the frontrunners thanks to a second-fastest time. In Brooks (SS2) the former Junior World Rally Champion set his first fastest stage time in the southern hemisphere and his 13th fastest time of the season. The crew of the number 7 Citroen C4 WRC maintained both their speed and consistency to end the morning in second overall, just 5.5 seconds behind Dani Sordo.
At remote service in Whangarei, the Frenchman said: "The biggest satisfaction for us at the start of this rally is the fact that we are right up there. We've not needed any time to settle ourselves in. From the first stage we were on the same pace as the leaders and I had a good feeling with the car right from the start. Even starting from fifth on the road, the stages are very slippery: you need to be careful to avoid making mistakes."
Sebastien Ogier continued to impress in the afternoon. In Springfield (SS5) he set another fastest time and took the provisional overall lead. On the second run through Bull and Cassidy, Ogier and Ingrassia played it safe to be sure of finishing the day in a solid third overall.
"The opening day has gone in the best possible way for us," said the Citroen Junior Team driver. "As usual, our Citroen C4 WRC worked perfectly and allowed us to perform to the best of our abilities. We worked hard during the recce to make the most precise notes possible. All this has helped us to set fastest times today and fight with the leaders. There's still a very long way to go on this rally, but for now we are right where we want to be. It's just a question of carrying on like this!"
Tomorrow the crews will face eight stages comprising 155.62 competitive kilometres. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will start from third on the road. The action gets underway at 0600 from Auckland.