All five Citroën C4 WRC runners ready for the season’s kick-off
The first shakedown of the year took place near Formoyle, not far from the service park in Sligo. The 2.87km test saw Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena post the fastest time of the five Citroën C4 WRC runners entered for the 2009 Rally Ireland.

The morning’s conditions in the north of Ireland were marked by heavy winds, and the first crews tackled the slippery test before sunrise, while rain started to fall shortly before 9am.

Sébastien Loeb covered the stage four times, posting a best time of 1m 38.4s: "The morning went well, but the stage was very fast and narrow. It would have been easy to make a mistake. My car is competitive and we feel confident. As usual, our aim is to win, especially here, on the first round of the championship."

Dani Sordo profited from the session to fine-tune the set-up of his C4 WRC with his team: "We made two or three changes. The conditions were very slippery, so we didn’t take any risks. I can’t wait for the rally to start and I would love to kick off the year with a podium finish."

Just days after contesting the Galway International Rally, Conrad Rautenbach is back in Ireland for this weekend’s WRC fixture: "We did this morning’s stage four times, including one in the dark early on. I have a good feeling with my Citroën C4 WRC; I’m ready for the start…"

Chris Atkinson is incontestably one the stars of the 2009 Rally Ireland and the Australian completed several runs this morning: "The conditions were very slippery, but we’re perfectly ready for the start. I feel good in the car, although it’s always difficult to know exactly where you stand until you’ve got at least the first stage behind you."

Sébastien Ogier, winner of the recent Rallye Monte-Carlo, was back in a Citroën C4 WRC for this morning’s workout: "This morning was just the shakedown. The test stage was very greasy and quite a handful. I think there’s a good chance we will see some big gaps open up on this event. For the time being, the main thing for us is to find our marks."

The start ceremony begins this evening at 7.30pm in front of Enniskillen Castle. Eddie Jordan and his group The Robbers will mark the occasion by playing in Cross Street from 9pm. The first stage of the event is due to start at 8.13 tomorrow morning (Friday).

Shakedown times
Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena: 1m 38.4s
Chris Atkinson/Stéphane Prévot: 1m 38.6s
Dani Sordo/Marc Marti: 1m 39.0s
Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt: 1m 41.7s
Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia: 1m 42.4s

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