The CitroŽn C4 WRCs ready for the challenge of Sardinia
Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena got their Sardinian weekend off to a perfect start by posting the fastest time on this morningís shakedown which used a 3.71km stage near Monte Pino. Like their team-mates Dani Sordo and Marc Marti, the five-time World Champions are in a good position to target a seventh straight win for CitroŽn Total World Rally Team. If they succeed, it will be another new FIA World Rally Championship record.

The pre-Rally díItalia test session got under way at eight oíclock this morning in fine, clear weather, and the thermometer climbed gradually to reach as high as 30įC.

To build on their run of six wins, Sťbastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have prepared extremely thoroughly for this event which they have won on three previous occasions, although nobody at CitroŽn Total is expecting it to be an easy weekend: "The stages are very dry and start order promises to play a crucial role. We improved our time on this morningís shakedown test by 15 seconds between our first and third runs. We are obviously hoping to notch up another win but we must also think in terms of the championship. If our position on the road prevents us from fighting for top spot, we will be happy to settle with the points that go for second or third place. That wonít be so badÖ"

Dani Sordo and Marc Marti moved up to second place in the World Championship standings thanks to their second place last month in Argentina, and they will be hoping to continue in the same vein here in Sardinia: "We concentrated hard to make sure we took good notes, including the corners where we will and wonít be able to cut. We did two runs this morning and the second went very well. It will no doubt be a very tough rally but I really want to finish on the podium. Running second on the road wonít be easy and we will need to push hard if we want to finish in a strong position."

In the ranks of the CitroŽn Junior Team, this will be Conrad Rautenbachís sixth visit to Sardinia: "Itís an event I know well and one I enjoy. The weather is hot and the atmosphere is always great. Itís also one of the closest events to Africa which is where I was born. We donít do any testing between events, so todayís shakedown was an opportunity to get back into the swing with the C4 WRC. Everything went well, but I will need to tread carefully once the rally begins. There are lots of rocks alongside the stages close to the ideal line, and I donít want to have to profit form the SupeRally ruling! If we keep clear of trouble, we should be able to finish in the points."

After skipping Argentina, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt make their return to the championship in their CitroŽn C4 WRC: "The shakedown was quite rough and not much like what we will find once the rally starts. I think it will be a very difficult event, especially the second day. It was nice to get behind the wheel again, and I felt comfortable with my car. A good run will help boost my confidence for the events which are coming next on the calendar."

The Italian round is known territory for Sťbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who contested this event in 2008 on their way to winning the Junior world title. The switch from their C2 Super 1600 to the C4 WRC has nonetheless forced them to modify their approach to the weekend: "Weíre basically starting from a clean sheet. During recce, it really struck us how different everything is with the CitroŽn C4 WRC. The pace is much faster, and the corners come at you far more quickly, so we have had to make a lot of changes to our pace notes system. We did two runs this morning to make sure that everything was working properly, but the profile of the test stage was very different to what we can expect over the weekend. Our strategy will be the same as it was in Argentina, although we will try to start at a faster pace so that we donít get caught napping. Our objective is once again to reach the finish without making any mistakes."

After this eveningís ceremonial start in Olbia, the rally will kick off in earnest on Friday morning at 8am. The first stage is due to start at 9.32am.

Shakedown times:
Sťbastien Loeb / Daniel Elena: 3m 15.s0
Dani Sordo / Marc Marti: 3m 18.9s
Evgeny Novikov / Dale Moscatt: 3m 25.6s
Conrad Rautenbach / Daniel Barritt: 3m 25.4s
Sťbastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia: 3m 24.0s

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