Sébastien Ogier leads the Rally de Portugal!
Rally de Portugal (28-31 May 2010) – Day 1

Just as was the case in Turkey and New Zealand, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia end a day leading the overall classification. The Citroën Junior Team crew set five fastest times in seven stages and now hold a 26.6-second lead over Dani Sordo and Marc Marti in second. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström finish the first day in 10th place.

The opening day of the Rally de Portugal started with a televised spectator superspecial on Thursday night at the Estadio Algarve, accommodating a capacity of 30,000 people. Driving their gravelspecification Citroën C4 WRCs on asphalt, Sébastien Ogier and Kimi Räikkönen set sixth and ninth fastest times respectively.

This morning Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed the overall lead after SS3, taking advantage of their fourth place on the road. “We tried to make the most of our start position,” said Sébastien at service. “From the first stage, we were able to find a good pace. As we already took part in this event last year with the C4 WRC, I had an idea of what to expect. Our plan is to carry on in the same way during the second loop, even though it will be trickier for the tyres.”

Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström had to deal with a set-up that was a bit too soft for the opening loop of stages. “I was surprised by the level of grip,” said Kimi. “We didn’t think that the conditions would be like this. We’re going to change the set-up to suit the stages more. I also think that our notes could sometimes be better. The second loop should be a little easier for us.”

After setting three more fastest stage times during the afternoon, Sébastien Ogier increased his advantage at the head of the field. “We pushed really hard throughout the day, while looking after the tyre wear quite well,” he concluded. “The Citroën C4 WRC feels perfect on these roads. Our goal now is to defend our position. Opening the road tomorrow will be a big disadvantage, maybe even more than it was today, but I like having to push! We can’t back off in any way as the last few events have proved just how quickly a gap can grow or shrink.”

As expected, Kimi Räikkönen upped his pace during the course of the afternoon. Over the three stages, he steadily reduced his time gap to the pacesetters. “Even though the roads were a bit rougher, I was able to get a bit quicker,” he reported. “I’m pleased with how the first day has gone. We’re continuing to improve and the times are gradually getting better. Now we just need to carry on like this tomorrow.”

“It’s been another great day from Sébastien Ogier,” concluded Citroën Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. “ We’re starting to get used to this now! Sébastien used his road position well and did not make any mistakes while looking after his tyres throughout the afternoon. The Citroën Junior Team is leading a WRC event for the third consecutive time, which is a huge source of satisfaction for all of us. Kimi started the rally sensibly and then improved his pace in the afternoon. After a long time out of the car, he is getting back into the swing of things calmly and with confidence. He is approaching the rally in an intelligent way. ”

Classification at the end of day one
1. Ogier / Ingrassia Citroën C4 1:20’34’’4
2. Sordo / Marti Citroën C4 +26’’6
3. Loeb / Elena Citroën C4 +44’’8
4. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus +46’’9
5. P. Solberg / Mills Citroën C4 +49’’9
6. Latvala / Anttila Ford Focus +1’02’’8
7. H. Solberg / Minor Ford Focus +1’20’’7
8. Wilson / Martin Ford Focus +1’54’’6
9. Ostberg / Andersson Subaru Impreza +2’37’’3
10. Räikkönen / Lindström Citroën C4 +3’18’’1…

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