Four aces in the pack for the Citroen Junior Team For the first time the Citroen Junior Team will enter four Citroen C4 WRCs on the Rally Great Britain: the final round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship. The regular Citroen Junior Team...
Four aces in the pack for the Citroen Junior Team
For the first time the Citroen Junior Team will enter four Citroen C4 WRCs on the Rally Great Britain: the final round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship. The regular Citroen Junior Team crews of Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt will be joined on this occasion by Petter Solberg/Phil Mills and Aaron Burkart/Michael Kolbach.
Three weeks after a first-rate performance on the rapid asphalt of Catalunya, the Citroen Junior Team will field four C4 WRCs on the all-gravel Rally Great Britain. Petter Solberg, who was fourth in Spain on his debut with the C4 WRC, joins the Citroen Junior Team and is nominated to score points in the manufacturers' championship. The 2003 World Rally Champion has triumphed in Wales four times, and he starts this year's event with high hopes. "The Citroen Junior Team has given me a great chance to show what I can do with a competitive car," he said. "My goal is obviously to be fighting at the front. I've already been extremely impressed with the performance of the C4 WRC and I hope to be able to seize every opportunity that comes my way on these stages that I really love."
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who currently lie eighth in the World Rally Championship, are returning to the event where they made their debut at the wheel of the C4 WRC in 2008. One year ago, the duo hit the headlines by sensationally grabbing the rally lead on the opening stages. "This will be the very first rally that we have driven before with a WRC car," said Sebastien. "I don't think that this will give us any particular advantage, but it should certainly make things a little bit easier. I also hope that the conditions will be a little better than they were last year. As the rally is running a month earlier, there should at least be no ice this time. We're coming to Rally GB with no particular pressure. The idea is for us to get quickly up to speed and aim for a good result. A top-five finish would be great, but if the podium is within our reach then we will do everything possible to go for it." Sebastien and Julien will be the second crew nominated to score manufacturer points.
For Conrad Rautenbach who lives in London and his English co-driver Daniel Barritt, the Rally Great Britain is their home event. "I've always loved this rally," said the Zimbabwean. "I feel at home here and I've got loads of supporters. The stages are fantastic, especially those run on the first day. It's going to be a very nice rally. I hope I get a good feeling with the car and finish in the points."
Aaron Burkart was classified second in the 2008 Junior World Rally Championship at the wheel of a Citroen C2 Super 1600, and he will drive a Citroen C4 WRC on the Rally Great Britain as part of his prize through the Citroen Junior Experience: "I'd like to thank Citroen for this fantastic initiative," said the German. "We're going to be learning all about the C4 WRC from scratch on some extremely demanding roads. I hope to reach the finish so that I can make the most of this experience and enjoy myself as much as possible."
Evgeny Novikov will not start the final round of the season. The Citroen Junior Team is naturally disappointed by the decision of the 19-year-old Russian driver, which is due to some of the difficulties he has experienced on certain rallies this year.
Three questions to... Petter Solberg
You got to know the Citroen C4 WRC on the Catalunya Rally. What were your first impressions of it?
"Driving such a fantastic and fast WRC machine again was a dream that has become a reality for me. On asphalt the car made a big impression, even though I was still learning it. It's a great chance for me now to drive a car as competitive as this one. I've already done some gravel tests and I've felt very comfortable with the C4 WRC from the start. We've got some other tests planned next week. I hope we can do the maximum number of kilometres possible in testing so that we are completely ready for the Rally Great Britain."
You're joining the Citroen Junior Team for this final round of the season. What is your feeling with the team?
"It feels like I am going back to my roots in many ways. I've had some highs and some lows but now I'm sitting on a great opportunity thanks to Citroen. I'm like a young driver who is keen to get noticed. I want to show what I am capable of and do everything possible to make the most of this chance. At the same time, my goal will also be to get a good result for the Citroen Junior Team. "
You've already won the Rally Great Britain four times. What's your goal for this year?
"What else can I hope for apart from an excellent result with the Citroen C4 WRC? The Rally Great Britain is an event that I really enjoy. My co-driver Phil Mills will also be rallying on home territory in front of a huge number of his supporters. I want to fight at the front, with the very best drivers, as I've always tried to do whenever I've had the right equipment to do it!"