The Citroën Junior Team aims to conquer Sapporo
The Citroën Junior Team will take the start of the Rally Japan – round 10 of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship – with two C4 WRCs that will be driven by Dani Sordo / Diego Vallejo and Kimi Räikkönen / Kaj Lindström.

The Rally Japan gets underway on Thursday 9 September with a superspecial in Sapporo. On Friday 10 September and Saturday 11 September the route will take the crews towards the towns of Tomakomai, Chitose and Eniwa in the south of the island of Hokkaido. The final day, Sunday 12 September, visits the area around Sunagawa, Bibai and Naie, to the northeast of the service park close to Sapporo.

Dani Sordo has taken part in the Rally Japan on three previous occasions, with a best result of second overall in 2007. The Spaniard just missed out on victory by 37.4 seconds on that occasion, having been the best performer of the rally after setting the same number of fastest stage times as Sebastien Loeb. “I’ve got some great memories of Japan,” said Dani. “It’s a long way away but a very beautiful country.

The route is really complex though. As a driver you have to be very precise in order to place the car accurately on very narrow roads and the co-driver has a lot of pace notes to get through, which need to be read out with perfect timing. If all those things don’t come together you end up either losing a stack of time or going off the road. From start to finish, you need to be really exact.”

Dani Sordo is joining the Citroën Junior Team for the last few gravel rounds of the 2010 season, and he is determined to get stuck into the battle with the frontrunners. “I’m going to be giving my all to show that I can drive just as quickly on gravel as I can on asphalt,” added the Spaniard.

Kimi Räikkönen has been used to making the trip to Japan throughout his Formula One career, winning the Japanese Grand Prix in 2005, but the gravel stages on the island of Hokkaido are going to be all new to him.

Kimi finished in the points on his last outing, the all-asphalt Rallye Deutschland, and also set the first fastest stage time of his short WRC career to date. He said: “We’ve not been testing since we finished the Rallye Deutschland. When we get to Japan, I’m going to have to get straight back into the rhythm again. I’m expecting it to be a very tricky event for us. From what I’ve heard, the Rally Japan is particularly complex. And it’s sure to be even more complicated for a beginner like me.”

The Finn has been in the points on four occasions from the eight starts he has taken this year, but his objectives remain unchanged. “My targets are exactly the same,” he confirmed. “From the first few stages in Japan we will be able to see the pace we can run at. But once more the main thing will be to be there at the end of the rally.”

After nine of the 13 events that make up this year’s World Rally Championship, Dani Sordo is fifth in the drivers’ standings while Kimi Räikkönen is 10th. In the manufacturers’ rankings, the Citroën Junior Team lies third with 168 points.

Three questions to… Benoit Nogier
Rally Japan is a particularly demanding event on the World Championship calendar. What are the specifics of the route?
“In the end, all the rounds of the World Rally Championship are complicated. Each rally has its own traits that give every event its unique character. In Japan, the weather is frequently variable. You often drive on quite muddy gravel that quickly forms ruts for the second run. The roads are narrow and extremely technical. Having good pace notes is vital. Once again, the role of the codriver is fundamental.”

Dani Sordo will be contesting his second rally with the Citroën Junior Team. What are you expecting from him?
“We’re very pleased to welcome Dani back to the Citroën Junior Team. In Finland, we were particularly pleased by his performance. It was his first rally with a new team for him, but he settled in rapidly. In Japan, Dani has shown himself to be quite competitive in the past. We’re hoping that he will be able to do his best again. His objective is to be amongst the top five of the factory drivers.”

For Kimi Räikkönen, will the target be any different to the previous rallies?
“Kimi is making progress from rally to rally and he is getting closer to the performance of other drivers who have a lot more experience than him. His most recent performances underline the improvements he has made and he is becoming increasingly more consistent. In Japan we will be competing against other crews who don’t have a huge amount of past experience on this route, which is relatively new. If Kimi could repeat the same sort of performance that he has put in on the other rallies that are new to everyone this year, like Turkey or Bulgaria, this would be a great outcome.”


Rally Japan (round 10/13) (9 – 12 September)

Surface: gravel

Where: Sapporo

Practical information: The service park, Rally HQ and the Media Centre are in the Hokusho Kurotech Tsukisamu Dome in Sapporo. There is a 7-hour time difference between Japan and France. It is 19h00 in Sapporo when it is 12h00 in Paris. On the first day of the rally, Friday 9th September, the sun will rise at 5h08 and set at 17h55. In September the average temperature is between 13°C in the morning and 22°C in the afternoon. The local currency is the Yen (JPY) (1 EUR = 107 JPY).

Technical info: The two Citroën C4 WRCs will have new engines which will also be used in France, Spain and Great Britain. The transmission and spare parts are shared with Rally Great Britain

Tyres: Thirty-six Pirelli Scorpion WRC soft tyres will be allocated to each crew (including six for the shakedown).

Reconnaissance: They are programmed for Tuesday 7th September and Wednesday 8th September from 8h00to 17h00 with two passages maximum in each stage.

Shakedown: Thursday 9th September between 8h00 and 12h00 on the ‘SSS Sapporo’ route.

Press conference: Thursday 9th September at 13h30 in the Media Centre.

Start: Thursday 9th September ‘SSS Sapporo’ at 17h20.

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