Ogier and Räikkönen at the forefront
Rally Bulgaria (8-11 July 2010) – Day 1

The first day of the Rally Bulgaria was characterised by some highs and some lows for the Citroën Junior Team. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were second after the opening loop of two stages, but then lost a minute in the afternoon. Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström held fourth overall – their best ever performance on a World Championship rally – after three of today’s four stages. On the final stage of the day they went off the road. The Finnish crew hopes to rejoin the action tomorrow.

Despite some heavy storms the day before, the two Citroën Junior Team crews both chose hard compound Pirelli PZero tyres for the opening loop of stages held on largely dry roads; a choice that was echoed by all of the WRC runners.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were second on the road and ended the opening loop in second overall, just behind Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. On SS3, the Rally Portugal winners got caught out and unfortunately lost a minute. “I made a mistake after mishearing a pace note,” said Ogier at the end of the day. “We went straight on and it cost us a lot of time, but luckily we are still in the rally. We’re going to make the most of it in order to gain more experience. Now we have to try and hunt down the Fords. I had a good feeling with the car in the afternoon. The team did a lot of good work on the set-up of our Citroën C4 WRC. The rally is still long and anything can still happen.”

Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström set off at a more conservative rhythm in the morning, checking their pace notes during the first run through the stages. Despite this prudent approach, the Finnish crew got off to a good start by securing fifth overall, just behind the other four Citroën C4 WRCs. “After starting eighth on the road, we had to cope with stages that were made quite dirty by the drivers in front of us cutting corners,” explained Räikkönen. “Because of this I experienced some understeer, but generally I was pleased with our performance in the morning.”

In the afternoon, Kimi Räikkönen made a more radical tyre choice. Contrary to the other WRC drivers, the former Grand Prix world champion opted for soft compound tyres. The Finn was fourth after three stages when he rolled 19 kilometres into SS4, without injury to the crew.

Co-driver Kaj Lindstrom explained: “We went off on a slow corner after 19 kilometres. We just slid towards the outside of the corner, went off the road, and landed on our roof. We were able to get out of the car straight away. Hopefully, we can start the rally again tomorrow.”

Citroën Junior Team Manager Benoit Nogier concluded: “Despite what is quite a harsh outcome for us, if you just look at the results in isolation, the performances of our two drivers have been encouraging. Kimi’s times are remarkable for his first day on asphalt. Seeing Sébastien set the times that he has on this surface is another source of satisfaction for us. It’s proof that we’ve worked extremely well during testing. Sébastien can still aim for fourth place. As for Kimi, he should be able to re-start the rally tomorrow and rack up more kilometres that will be useful for the rest of the season.”

Classification at the end of day one
1. Loeb / Elena Citroën C4 1:05’26’’7
2. Sordo / Marti Citroën C4 +28’’1
3. P. Solberg / Patterson Citroën C4 +38’’0
4. Hirvonen / Lehtinen Ford Focus +1’10’’9
5. Latvala / Anttila Ford Focus +1’21’’2
6. Ogier / Ingrassia Citroën C4 +1’31’’3
7. Andersson / Andersson Ford Focus +2’26’’3
8. Turan / Elsiros Peugeot 307 +2’49’’1
9. Wilson / Martin Ford Focus +3’45’’6
10. H. Solberg / Minor Ford Focus +4’43’’4…

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