A speedy start for the Citroën Junior Team
On the ultra-quick roads of the opening day of Rally Poland, the Citroën Junior Team once more made its mark. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia return to Mikolajki in sixth place this evening, followed by Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt who are eighth. Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt were fifth during the morning but were forced to retire halfway through the day. They will start again tomorrow under the SupeRally system.

Weather conditions remained hospitable throughout the opening day of the Rally Poland. The clouds that had gathered since shakedown did not turn into rain, and a ray of sunshine even illuminated the region – which is well-known for its lakes – during the final stage of the day.

A total of 113 competitive kilometres were scheduled for the opening day, on very quick roads to the east of Mikolajki. In the quickest places the Citroën C4 WRCs reached 196 kph, while the average speed was close to 130 kph in Pianki 2.

Having finished on the podium of the Acropolis Rally in Greece two weeks ago, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia got off to a careful start on what was a very different type of event. « The stages are very quick, so you need to have real confidence if you’re looking for a time » he explained. « We set off at a good pace without taking any risks. We’re still struggling a bit in the places where the roads are bumpy, so we’re losing a lot of time in those sections. But our overall conclusion from the day is extremely positive. There have been no mistakes and our sixth place overall is very encouraging for the rest of the rally. »

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt tried to find a good rhythm from the start of the rally and gradually increased their pace to end the day eighth in the provisional classification. « We lost some time on the final stage and we are going to have to look at the data to see if there was a mechanical problem » said Rautenbach. « My feeling with the car is very good in the quick bits. I’m enjoying the route and I think that we’ve driven well, particularly during the second passage through the stages. Hopefully we can continue like this tomorrow. It’s a difficult rally and I hope to make more progress during the second day. »

Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt were quick from the beginning, which allowed them to hold a topfive position after the first three stages. Unfortunately they were forced to retire from the day at the end of Paprotki (SS4). « Three corners from the end of the stage, we went over a crest a little too quickly » reported Novikov. « We went off the road and broke the suspension. Then we tried to fix the problem but it wasn’t possible. So we will start again tomorrow under the SupeRally system. »

Benoit Nogier, the Citroën Junior Team Manager, concluded: « We think that Evgeny’s mistake was the result of an incorrect pace note. This is not a rally where mistakes go unpunished. But at least he should be able to start again tomorrow thanks to SupeRally. Sébastien and Conrad have had a very good day. Sébastien was straight on the pace and ends the day in sixth, just a few seconds off fourth. Conrad is eighth and in a strong position to score points. Our Citroën C4 WRCs had no technical problems. The objective tomorrow is to do the same again, without having recourse to SupeRally. »

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