Two fastest times for Ogier and Ingrassia!
RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (1- 4 October 2009) – Day 2

On the second day of the Catalunya Rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia flew the flag for the Citroën Junior Team. The French crew set two fastest stage times to consolidate their fifth place overall. Their team mates Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt are now only a few seconds off the top 10.

The second day of the rally, held entirely on dry asphalt, took the crews to the northwest of Salou, close to the Montsant mountain range. Conditions were warm throughout the day, with the air temperature peaking at 27°C and ground temperature reaching 33°C.

On the first stage of the day, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia proved their pace by going faster than Petter Solberg on El Priorat-La Ribera d’Ebre (SS7): at 38.27 kilometres, the longest stage of the rally. The remainder of the loop underlined the speed of the Equipe de France FFSA-backed crew, with their first fastest asphalt stage time coming on Les Garrigues (SS8). « We’re starting to develop a really good feeling with the car » said Sébastien at the midday service halt. « It’s very competitive and I feel more and more confident. The proof of that is our fastest time. Now our aim is to carry on like this. Petter Solberg is not so far away. We will try to get a little bit closer to him. »

With another fastest time on the second run through El Priorat-La Ribera d’Ebre (SS10), the reigning Junior World Rally Champion continued his progress to end the day just 20.0s off Petter Solberg. Over the day’s six stages, Ogier managed to narrow the gap to Solberg and Hirvonen considerably. « That’s a big satisfaction for us » he concluded. « In the afternoon it was important to look after the tyres as there were high ambient temperatures. So we were quite careful in order to be sure of getting to the end of the day with no problems. »

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt started the day 12th and made useful progress to climb to 11th by the end of SS12. The Zimbabwean was pleased with his day’s work. « We started off gently and then speeded up as the stages went on » he recounted. « It was better this afternoon. We know that it is impossible to make up the time we lost on the opening day, but we will continue working together with the team in order to improve our position. Tomorrow, our goal is to catch up our closest rival. » Evgeny Novikov and Stéphane Prévot did not finish the day. Their Citroën Russia C4 WRC went off the road nine kilometres into SS7.

Benoit Nogier, the Citroën Junior Team Manager, concluded: « Sébastien Ogier has picked up some very good habits in the last few rallies! His fastest times were extremely encouraging, as this is only his first asphalt rally driving a WRC car. Conrad Rautenbach still does not have enough confidence on this surface but he is steadily improving and he has shown that he is capable of setting good times. Tomorrow, he needs to concentrate on finding a good feeling. As for Evgeny Novikov, an incorrect pace note he made during the recce has deprived him of some important kilometres. But he is young and still lacking in experience. It’s important to remember that this is only his third asphalt rally and his first one at the wheel of a WRC car. His small mistake was not a drama. The team is currently working hard on his C4 WRC to get him out again under the SupeRally rules tomorrow. »

Classification at the end of day two :
1. Loeb/Elena Citroën C4 2h24’01’’3
2. Sordo/Marti Citroën C4 +1’’5
3. Hirvonen/Lehtinen Ford Focus +48’’5
4. P. Solberg/Mills Citroën C4 +1’10’’9
5. Ogier/Ingrassia Citroën C4 +1’30’’9
6. Latvala/Anttila Ford Focus +2’31’’7
7. Wilson/Martin Ford Focus +5’52’’6
8. Villagra/Perez Companc Ford Focus +6’43’’0
9. H. Solberg/Menkerud Ford Focus +7’03’’1
10. Snobeck/Mondésir Peugeot 307 +8’22’’4
11. Rautenbach/Barritt Citroën C4 +8’34’’4...

Day 3 - Sunday 4 October : 364.89 km of which 93.88 km are competitive (6 stages, 3 different stages). Service F (0715/15 min) – SS13 : ‘Riudecanyes 1’ (16.32 km) – SS14 : ‘Santa Marina 1’ (26.51 km) – SS15 : ‘La Serra d’Almos A’ (4.11 km) – Regrouping (1048/30 min) – SS16 :‘Riudecanyes 2’ (16.32 km) – SS17 : ‘Santa Marina 2’ (26.51 km) – SS18 : ‘La Serra d’Almos 2’ (4.11km) – Regrouping (1444/3 min) – Service H (1447/10 min) – Finish at 1507.

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