The Citroen Junior Team performs strongly in Sardinia By putting in a series of top-eight performances, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt have ended the opening day of the Rally d'Italia-Sardegna in fifth overall in one of the three Citroen Junior...
The Citroen Junior Team performs strongly in Sardinia
By putting in a series of top-eight performances, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt have ended the opening day of the Rally d'Italia-Sardegna in fifth overall in one of the three Citroen Junior Team C4 WRCs. Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt end the day in 11th.
With midsummer just one month away, temperatures were warm in Olbia, to the northeast of Sardinia. Temperatures in excess of 30o.C characterised today's gravel stages in the Olbia-Tempio and Nuoro regions. On roads that were made extremely slippery by a deep layer of surface sand, the Citroen Junior Team crews put in some encouraging performances to set a string of top-eight stage times.
Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt returned to their Citroen C4 WRC after missing Argentina and quickly established a strong rhythm to place themselves in the top six. They were particularly rapid and consistent in Loelle (SS2 and SS5), the quickest stage of the rally with an average speed of more than 100kph. As a result, the young Russian returned to Olbia in fifth overall. " I'm very pleased with our day " he said. " The car was perfect. I only made two small mistakes and lost a bit of time in the final stage of the loop. I think we've shown ourselves well, and we are going to adapt our car set-up now to the road position we will occupy tomorrow, when it will certainly be more slippery. Tomorrow will be tricky for us. Nonetheless, we're going to try and hang onto our road position and maybe even make up a few places in the overall classification. Let's see what happens. "
Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt were consistent enough to hold a top-10 place all day before dropping one position in SS6. " We had a spin on the last stage " explained the Zimbabwean. " The engine stalled and it took us a few seconds to get going again. The car is very competitive and the rest of the day went well. Tomorrow, we're going to keep going at a good pace on stages that are a little rougher. It won't be easy but the difficulties are at least going to be the same for everyone. "
Thanks to some front-running performances, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held an excellent fifth place before the start of SS5. They set a third-fastest time on Loelle 1, just 1.1 seconds slower than the quickest time of all from Dani Sordo. But the reigning Junior World Rally Champions were then forced to stop on Loelle 2 following a left-front damper failure.
Benoit Nogier, the Citroen Junior team manager, drew a positive conclusion from the first day's performance. " From what we can tell so far, before we get their car back, the problem that affected Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was caused by a technical failure rather than a driving area. Our initial thought is that they should be able to re-start tomorrow under the SupeRally. Sebastien had a very strong day, just like Evegny who has ended up in a well-deserved fifth overall. He's definitely well-placed, given his potential and his starting position this morning. He's been able to make the most of his potential and the result has been convincing. Conrad made a small mistake on the final stage that prevented him from finishing the day in the top 10. Now we have to analyse his data to work out why he is losing time in some places but is right on the pace in others. "