An endless day for Citroën Junior Team
Today’s Rally Argentina stages – renowned for being amongst the most difficult of all on the FIA World Rally Championship – did not smile on the Citroën Junior Team. Neither Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt nor Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia were able to make the finish on day two of the South American event.

Having successfully negotiated the opening day, the Citroën Junior Team had to confront one of world rallying’s toughest tests today. Those who had got through day one now faced a hectic day taking in more than 140 competitive kilometres, including two runs over the epic Mina Clavero–Giulio Cesare and El Condor–Copina stages, run through lunar landscapes at more than 2100 metres in altitude.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia started the day in a strong ninth position, thanks to some consistent performances. « We’re basing ourselves on the pace of Matthew Wilson, » explained Sébastien. « Today’s stages are a formidable challenge. They are so popular that you can’t go 10 metres without seeing a spectator and often you can smell their barbeques from inside the rally car! The roads are really nice but also really tricky. We’re suffering a bit because of the ruts that form in the road after the passage of the cars ahead. It’s hard to keep up a good rhythm. »

Having begun day two in 10th place, Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt were forced to stop in SS12, the first run down the long descent between El Condor and Copina.

« We were approaching a corner on a long downhill section, » Conrad reported. « I took a line that was a bit too tight and unfortunately we hit a rock on the inside. The steering was damaged and the car spun. We tried to carry on but a few hundred metres later we hit a narrow bridge. »

A broken suspension wishbone meant that the Zimbabwean was not able to get going again.

Following the half-hour midday service halt at Villa Carlos Paz, Sébastien Ogier set off once more for the majestic Traslasierra Mountains. With two fifth-fastest stage times behind him, the reigning Junior World Rally Champion continued to build up experience over this tricky terrain until the second run through El Condor. « A damper had let go just before the finish of the previous stage, » Sébastien recounted. « We didn’t hit anything: I think it was just the inevitable consequence of the strain they were subjected to on these very rough roads. We tried to carry on but it was pointless to risk damaging the car further by continuing at slow speeds… »

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be able to re-start tomorrow under the SupeRally system and contest the five remaining stages of Rally Argentina. By contrast, Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt have been forced to retire definitively on safety grounds.

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