Evgeny Novikov Flies the Flag
The Citroën Junior Team ends the second day of the Rally de Portugal with two C4 WRCs in the top 10 positions. This evening, Evgeny Novikov/Dale Moscatt hold seventh position, while Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt in ninth place. Dropping out of the running at the beginning of day, Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia will set out to regain lost ground tomorrow in Super Rally.

In weather conditions which continue to be ideal - with 29°C in the air and 37°C on the ground in middle of day - crews of the Citroën Junior Team pressed on through a gruelling day on the rough gravel stages to the south of Almodovar in Portugal’s Algarve region.

During the first special stage of the day, French pairing of driver Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia - then sixth – were forced to pull out following an accident : « We were in a fast section with a fast curve to the left with a crest and, forty meters further, a steep turn to the right. We arrived at the top of the crest just a few centimetres to the right of the ideal trajectory. In the rocky gravel, we could not recover the car which hit a tree with right rear corner. We tried to continue but without success. »

Ogier, the reigning Junior World Rally Champion, will take his repaired car to the startline tomorrow for the third and final day of the rally, within the framework of Super Rally.

Meanwhile, benefitting Ogier’s misfortune and another retirement, that of two-time world champion Marcus Grönholm’s Subaru, Citroën Junior Team pairing of Russian driver Evgeny Novikov and Australian co-driver Dale Moscatt climbed to sixth place overall : « We had decided to attack more today. But I missed a turn which was not in our notes for stage 9 and got a puncture when we went off the road. » Having lost nearly two minutes, the Russian got his rhythm back in the afternoon, clawing through to seventh place : « I didn’t take risks. The car is perfect and very responsive despite the rough terrain. I will try to keep the same pace up tomorrow. »

Zimbabwean driver Conrad Rautenbach and his British co-driver Daniel Barritt started the day in tenth place and continued to make rapid progress through the six timed stages that followed : « I was pacing myself today because these roads are very technical and you need to pay close attention to the notes. We made progress compared to yesterday, even though we got a puncture right before the end of the last stage, but without losing too much time. I’m pleased with our performance and I hope to keep the pace up tomorrow, even if the road conditions are expected to be more difficult. »

« It was a new day of training for our crews, » says Benoit Nogier, team manager. « Evgeny was unlucky after very a good start this morning, but showed a certain maturity in his response through the rest of the day. He continues to learn, understands quickly and his progresses is impressive. Conrad showed pace and consistency to stay in the top 10 despite suffering a puncture.

« As for Sebastien, an error of carelessness cost him the experience of many kilometers and we are very disappointed for him. I hope that we will be able to score manufacturers points tomorrow and that Evgeny will finish in the top 8, he deserves to score points in the drivers’ championship »

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