The Citroën Junior Team stays on track
On a rally renowned for its many pitfalls, the Citroën Junior Team crews have stuck perfectly to the strategy selected at the start of the rally. Having shown impressive consistency, Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt are in the top 10 at the end of the opening day of Rally Argentina.

The Rally Argentina got underway on Thursday night with a superspecial at Cordoba Stadium, giving the famously enthusiastic South American crowd yet another valuable opportunity to cheer on their heroes.

Despite predictions of overnight rain, the Citroën Junior Team faced dry and dusty roads when they started Friday’s action. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, classified seventh after the spectator superspecial, decided to take a conservative approach during the first full day of competition. « These roads were all new to us, » said the reigning Junior World Rally Champion. « There are some places that were very rough. Maybe I was a little too cautious sometimes in the morning, but our objective is definitely to get to the end of the rally without making mistakes. Luckily, our Citroën C4 WRC is coping very well with the rough terrain. »

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt started a long opening day with some very good pace. « We actually got held up by the dust of the car in front, » reported Conrad. « The Citroën C4 WRC is very strong and the set-up that we established is perfect. I just lost a bit of time at the end of SS4 as I was worried that I might have picked up a puncture. »

In the afternoon, following some light rain that had the effect of dampening down the dust without actually making the stages muddy, Sébastien Ogier upped his pace slightly to pass Conrad Rautenbach for ninth place in the provisional overall classification. « We changed a few things on the set-up, in particular the differential, » commented Sébastien. « I felt a lot more confident then. I was able to go quicker without taking any extra risks. My personal goal is to be there at the rally finish and I know that there is still a very long way to go. »

During the second loop of stages, Conrad Rautenbach lost a bit of ground. « We had a problem with the brakes, » he explained. « They heated up really quickly and so the car was not as well-balanced as usual. On these tricky roads – which were really rutted after the passage of the previous cars – that cost us some time. It was just a small setback but at least we’re still going and we haven’t made any mistakes. »

« Rally Argentina was always going to be a formidable challenge for everyone and this opening day has certainly confirmed that, » concluded Citroën Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. « Sébastien and Conrad have both steered clear of trouble though to bring their Citroën C4 WRCs home in the top 10 tonight. They’ve both grasped exactly the right strategy. We’re going to continue at this pace tomorrow morning and at midday we will see where we are and assess any need to adapt our tactics if necessary. »

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