Ogier / Ingrassia in the top five in Catalunya
RallyRACC Catalunya – Costa Daurada (1- 4 October 2009) – Day 3

On their first participation in the Catalunya Rally at the wheel of a Citroën C4 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have finished the event fifth after setting two fastest stage times. This result has underlined the potential of the Citroen Junior Team on a wide variety of surfaces. Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt ended the rally just outside the top 10.

Making their debut in Spain with a Citroën C4 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia used the first day to get to grips with the conditions but already put in some first rate performances to climb to fifth overall. The Equipe de France FFSA backed crew confirmed their pace the following day with two fastest stage times, before concentrating on consolidating their position at the end of the 45th Catalunya Rally today.

Throughout Sunday’s action – which was again run in warm conditions – the reigning Junior World Rally Champions made sure of a solid finish, steering clear of the many hazards that the complex stages presented to them. « The first stage went very well for us » reported Sébastien. « But afterwards I didn’t feel quite as comfortable somehow. There was a very tricky bumpy section in Santa Marina (SS7). Even though the gaps to the other cars around us were relatively small, our fifth place finish was taken carefully and on merit. Every kilometre that we cover on every rally is vital for us to build up experience » he said at the end of the morning.

Once the rally was over, Sébastien Ogier could celebrate his second top-five finish after his result in Australia on gravel last month. « I’m delighted with this result for the entire team » he said. « We worked hard during our test to prepare for this event. After easing ourselves into things on the opening morning in Spain, everything went perfectly. It’s a really good result to have behind us heading into the final rally of the season! »

Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt continued to fight for a top-10 place throughout the day. « The car is as competitive as ever » said the Zimbabwean. « My feeling with it is also getting with every kilometre that passes. » Rautenbach, who eventually finished 11th, is already looking forward to the next round in Great Britain. « With just one asphalt rally on the calendar at the end of the year, it’s hard for us to get our bearings on this surface again quickly » he commented. « Nonetheless, I was able to perform better towards the end of the event. In Great Britain, we will be back on gravel. I hope that I can get into the points there in order to end our year on a high. » Evgeny Novikov and Stéphane Prévot were able to re-start the final day in Catalunya thanks to some hard work from the Citroën Junior Team, but they went off the road on the opening special stage of the day (Riudecanyes 1 / SS13).

« We’ve had a rally that has been both very good and very bad for us » concluded Citroën Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. « Evgeny Novikov made a few mistakes that go hand in hand with youth. As for Conrad, he seemed to be more on the pace here last year. After his big accident in Finland, he is building up his confidence again bit by bit. Sébastien Ogier was very, very good though. He has showed himself to be competitive on new rallies in the past, and now he has confirmed that pace on territory that is wellknown to his more experienced rivals. Sébastien has been quick all weekend and hasn’t made a single mistake. With these sorts of results behind him, we can look forward serenely to 2010. We also take our hats off to Petter Solberg, who finished fourth in a customer-specification Citroën C4 WRC. We’re very pleased for him and his result is very satisfying. »

Provisional final classification :
1. Loeb/Elena Citroën C4 3h22’14’’7
2. Sordo/Marti Citroën C4 +12’’0
3. Hirvonen/Lehtinen Ford Focus +54’’1
4. P. Solberg/Mills Citroën C4 +1’12’’4
5. Ogier/Ingrassia Citroën C4 +1’41’’6
6. Latvala/Anttila Ford Focus +2’49’’8
7. Wilson/Martin Ford Focus +7’15’’5
8. Villagra/Perez Companc Ford Focus +8’28’’1
9. H. Solberg/Menkerud Ford Focus +9’07’’6
10. Snobeck/Mondésir Peugeot 307 +10’56’’0
11. Rautenbach/Barritt Citroën C4 +11’07’’6...

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