The Citroën Junior Team slaloms on…
After a particularly encouraging performance yesterday, the Citroen Junior Team drivers were forced to show their determination today. By overcoming some of the hurdles thrown up in an action-packed day, the three Citroën C4 WRC crews gained a huge amount of experience and set themselves up for an exciting finish to the rally on Sunday.

The second day of the Rally Norway had a somewhat Olympic atmosphere to it. The crews left the service park in Hamar’s Viking Ship – built for the speed-skating events in the 1994 Winter Olympics – and headed towards Lillehammer, where the games were based.

On the first loop of four special stages, which took place under blue skies and in temperatures of between -15°C and -20°C, the Citroën Junior Team crews experienced mixed fortunes.

Having left service with a new started motor on their C4 WRC this morning, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt lost some time at the start of the day. « I had some difficulty in selecting gears, and so we ended up in a snow bank, » Evgeny explained. The Russian lost more than four minutes in Lillehammer 1 (SS11) but was able to regain the road and get back to service afterwards.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started day two in ninth overall, but were delayed by an alternator problem. « We’re just relieved to bring the car back to service, » said the Frenchman, after pushing his C4 WRC back to the Citroën Junior Team tent. « The alternator developed a problem on the very first stage. We kept the car in road mode all the way to service in order just to use a minimum of electricity and not completely flatten the battery. But then we had to push the car for the final few metres into the service area. »

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt concentrated on the job in hand and put in a fault-free run, despite some small concerns about the brakes. « The stages are fantastic with loads of snow, » reported Conrad. « I’m disappointed to have had this problem on such great roads. But apart from that the car has been extremely competitive and I’m aiming to make the most of it this afternoon. »

During the second loop of stages, Evgeny Novikov once more encountered difficulties with gear selection. « We’re losing time in the narrow places, » he said. « I can’t shift gears easily, so the team is looking at the data. » The young Russian ended the day 12th, just behind Conrad Rautenbach.

As for the Zimbabwean, he was caught out by a hairpin bend on the second run through Mountain (SS14). « We got a bit too close to a snowbank, and so the air intake became blocked, » he explained. « We had to stop to clean everything out and ended the stage with no power. I’m very disappointed, but I’m hoping for better things tomorrow so that we can really demonstrate our capabilities. »

Sébastien Ogier left midday service with a Citroën C4 WRC that was as good as new, which finally allowed him to show his true potential and regain a place in the top 10. « We fought hard this morning just to give ourselves the chance of driving the stages in the afternoon! » he said. « It wasn’t easy, because we were coming to these stages at full racing speed for the first time. But I was able to fully concentrate on my driving, so our efforts in the morning certainly didn’t go to waste. »

« We’ve faced a challenging day, » concluded team manager Benoit Nogier. « Along with our crews, the Citroën Junior Team is learning all the time. Rally Norway is only our first snow event, and the relationship between the drivers and the teams is developing day by day. We’re going to carry on working hard, with the objective – just as was the case in Ireland – of seeing all three cars at the finish tomorrow. Sébastien definitely underlined his determination today, and we equally hope that Conrad and Evgeny will be able to show the best of themselves throughout the long final day tomorrow. »

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