The Citroën C4 WRCs on the pace
The 2009 Rally Norway kicked off on Thursday evening with a short super-special in Oslo which attracted a packed house despite sub-zero temperatures of minus 15°C. After spending the night in Hamar, crews set again this morning for Kongsvinger, some 100km to the south.

As provisional leaders of the Drivers’ and Co-drivers’ World Rally Championship standings, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are running first on the road today and the Franco-Monegasque pair pulled out of parc ferme at 7am, two minutes before Dani Sordo and Marc Marti.

At the lunchtime break, with five stages completed, Sébastien and Daniel are second overall, 4.8 seconds behind Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen: "I am very pleased with the way the morning went. You can really push hard in these conditions," explained Sébastien at the remote 15-minute service halt. "It’s nice to be duelling with Mikko [Hirvonen] and the balance of my Citroën C4 WRC is perfect. Thanks to the work of everyone on the team, its performance on snow has improved significantly."

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti follow in fourth place thanks to a quick, but risk-free drive: "For me, it is very important to reach the finish and score points," observed the Spanish driver. "I am very happy with the handling of my car and we are in a strong position, even though we are not hard on the heels of the leaders. We’ll see how it goes second time round."

Marc Marti was positive in his report of his driver’s display this morning: "It is tough to stick to a perfectly consistent pace on this sort of surface. Dani has shown that he has made good progress."

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are looking to gain experience as they find their marks in these wintry conditions and are a solid eighth: "We aren’t pushing too hard for the moment,’ commented the reigning Junior World Champion. "We will try to find the right sort of pace as go along. On SS4 [Finnskogen 1], I stalled in the same hairpin that caught out quite a few drivers. Apart from that, everything went very well and we have a good feeling with the car."

Evgeny Novikov is 11th overall after a good start to his first outing in the Citroën Junior Team Citroën C4 WRC: "We will take a look at the set-up for this afternoon’s stages. The suspension of our C4 WRC was a little too soft this morning. We’re basically trying to bed ourselves in and we’ve had a trouble-free run so far..."

The Russian driver is closely tailed by Conrad Rautenbach who is 12th: "The stages are great. I am feeling more and more confident, which means I was able to start pushing a little harder. Driving on these roads is fantastic fun."

After the 15-minute service halt in Kongsvinger, crews return for a repeat attempt at the same stages as this morning, although in a different order. Opaker 2 (SS6) starts at 12.51pm.

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