The Citroën Junior Team poised to strike in Finland
On the rapid roads of the first day of the Rally Finland, the Citroën Junior Team has placed two C4 WRCs just outside the points. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are currently ninth. They lie in front of Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt, who are 11th. Having hit problems at the start of the day, Evegeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt will start again tomorrow under the SupeRally system.

The Rally Finland got underway yesterday with a run through the Killeri superspecial. In front of packed grandstands, Sébastien Ogier and Evgeny Novikov, the two nominated Citroën Junior Team drivers, finished equal fourth : setting the scene for an epic battle. This morning the teams left parc ferme at 06:00 heading to the northwest of Jyvaskyla, where two loops of four stages awaited them – before a final run through the Killeri trotting track to end the leg.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed their recent performances with a strong run through the demanding stages of Rally Finland. Only a spin in the afternoon halted their impressive progress. « Apart from this small mistake, which was caused by cutting a corner a bit too deeply and spinning the car round, we had a very good day » he said. « The 30 seconds we lost compared to our direct rivals will be difficult to get back, but we have to keep going at a good pace. The objective is to get through all the stages so that we learn more. »

Faced with top rate opposition on this rally, Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt put up a good fight against the other WRC crews despite a puncture during the second loop of stages. « On the first afternoon stage, we picked up a puncture when we went off the ideal line coming out of a corner » said the Zimbabwean. « Also, I felt that the handling of the car was not as sweet as it was during the morning. From that point on, it was hard to have full confidence on these really quick roads. But I’m staying positive as we are still in the thick of it and the team is going to make a few changes to the car. We will set off again tomorrow with a mission to set some good times. »

Having been fourth in the overall classification after the superspecial, Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt did not have the opportunity to show their potential through the Finnish forests. « It was because of a mistake in the pace notes, which shows our lack of experience » reported the Russian. « On roads as quick as this, you need a really good rhythm. I just missed a note over a crest and we ended up in the trees. Now, my goal is to finish the rally and hopefully set some good times on the second runs through the stages. »

Citroën Junior Team Manager Benoit Nogier concluded : « Once again our crews showed some promising pace today. On his first Rally Finland in a WRC car, Sébastien Ogier kept up with some much more experienced drivers. His performance is very encouraging for the rest of the rally. Conrad Rautenbach continues to get closer to his rivals, even though he lost time with a technical problem that we hope to solve at service. If he can go and score some points, that would be a great result. As for Evgeny Novikov, we are all hoping that he will be able to show his speed tomorrow ! »

The second day of the Rally Finland – which is the longest of the rally at 166.87 competitive kilometres – gets underway at 06:15 tomorrow, with nine special stages on the menu.

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