A first one-two for the Citroën Junior Team!
Rally della Lanterna (12 June 2010) – Finish

In order to prepare for the second half of the FIA World Rally Championship, which is held largely on asphalt, the Citroën Junior Team entered two C4 WRCs on the Rally della Lanterna – which took place on Saturday close to Genoa. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindstrom led for most of the rally right up to the start of the last stage, where they finally had to give best to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. For the first time in its history, the Citroën Junior Team sealed a one-two! Sébastien Ogier won the opening superspecial on Friday night to lead from Kimi Räikkönen. The following day, the rally continued with eight stages totalling 120 competitive kilometres.

As the teams left the service park for the first loop of three stages, threatening weather made tyre choice an extremely tricky proposition. Although a storm had been predicted for the stages, Sébastien Ogier chose hard tyres. “We’re not here to win, but instead to test for the four remaining asphalt rounds on the WRC this year,” he explained. “So this is a good opportunity to find out how the tyres behave in unaccustomed conditions.” Kimi Räikkönen, who is learning the C4 WRC on asphalt, made a more conservative choice with soft tyres.

Although he overheated those tyres on SS2, Kimi was leading the rally by the end of SS4. As for Sébastien, he lost nearly 30 seconds after struggling to find grip on the slippery asphalt! On the second loop of stages, both C4 WRCs were fitted with soft tyres. Kimi hung onto the lead, while Sébastien climbed up to second; 17 seconds off his team mate.

The rally went down to the final three stages. On the penultimate stage, a small impact cost Kimi several seconds, and Sébastien closed up to within 2.4 seconds of him! As has been the case on several occasions recently, there was maximum suspense at the stop control of the final stage. In the end, Sébastien Ogier claimed victory by 5.7 seconds. “It’s always great to win a rally, but above all I’m pleased to have been able to test a variety of different things on the car,” the Frenchman said. “ I feel much better prepared now for the remaining rounds of the World Rally Championship, starting with the Rally Bulgaria that will be new for everyone.”

Kimi Räikkönen also drew a positive conclusion from this valuable test event. “It was a good experience,” he said. “The car was fun to drive and this day will be very useful to me to get ready for the second part of the season.”

Team manager Benoît Nogier will retain many good memories of the trip to Italy. “Another victory in the space of a few weeks and our first one-two are great moments for our team, which has been working nonstop,” he concluded. “Leaving aside the result though, we’ve made a lot of progress to prepare for the Rally Bulgaria. It’s extremely useful for the future to have tried out a wide range of tyres in different conditions. Sébastien was just as good as we expected him to be and I would also like to highlight the performance of Kimi, who set some very good times. We expected him to feel more at ease on asphalt and that has turned out to be the case. It’s very encouraging for the future. Finally, I’d like to thank the organisers and the spectators, who welcomed us enthusiastically to their beautiful part of the world.”

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