Citroen Top Driver, Riedemann wins

Citroen Top Driver, Riedemann winsFrom Citroen Press [ 24/06/2013 ].
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Rally Italia Sardegna, the second round of the Citroën Top Driver series, was particularly demanding for the ten crews taking part in their DS3 R3s. Ultimately, Christian Riedemann and his co-driver Lara Vanneste claimed the win. Keith Cronin and Quentin Gilbert took the other podium places.

Heat, dust, a frantic pace and tiredness: the crews had to deal with all of these factors in order to complete the event's 304 kilometres of timed sections. Packed into two days of racing, Rally Italia Sardegna started shortly after sunrise on Friday morning. In the WRC 3 category, ten crews lined up at start, all determined to achieve the same goal: win the rally!

After drawing a blank at Rally Portugal, Christian Riedemann didn't start among the favourites. And yet the talented young German stayed within striking distance of the leaders on the first test. Cautious and focussed, he didn't take any unnecessary risks and gradually saw his rivals get caught out by the pitfalls of the Sardinian roads. He thus moved into the lead after SS2. Battling at the front with Stéphane Consani who had joined the Citroën challenge here in Sardinia, Christian relinquished the lead on Gallura 2, the only stage of the rally run at night. Hampered by dust kicked up by another car, the German lost over a minute.

Day two was dominated by the ding-dong battle between the two leading crews. An electrical problem just before the final stage cost Stéphane Consani dearly. He collected a total of fourteen minutes of penalties, and with that, his hopes of victory evaporated. Bitterly disappointed, he dropped back to sixth place in the overall standings.

Christian therefore reached the service park with the points in the bag, moving up to fifth in the drivers' standings of the Citroën challenge. "Lara and I are really very happy! These two days have been extremely difficult but our sensible approach has paid dividends. We have managed to win without taking any unnecessary risks, although we also benefitted from the problems that affected Stéphane, with whom we had a fantastic battle! We are now in a good position and we are ready to tackle the upcoming events. We can't wait for the Finnish rally and its fast sections, but also and above all the first tarmac round where we'll be the nearest thing the series has to a home crew."

Second overall, Irish driver Keith Cronin could be pleased with his race. After losing close to five minutes on the very first stage after picking up a puncture, he recovered to light up the first leg with Frenchman Sébastien Chardonnet as the pair shared seven stage wins. He gradually climbed the overall standings, keeping out of trouble and reaping the rewards of his consistency.

Quentin Gilbert and Sébastien Chardonnet took third and fourth places respectively, despite a tough weekend. Both lost time on Monte Lerno 1 - the decisive stage in the Citroën Top Driver - one with a puncture, the other in the dust of a slowed down car ahead. They both recovered well but Quentin had to retire before SS8 after running out of petrol on the road section, whilst Sébastien had to resign himself to finishing just short of the podium places after a minor impact that damaged his steering on Saturday morning. Despite these incidents, the two French drivers are now joint leaders of the Citroën Top Driver standings, with 30 points each.

Fifth and seventh in the race respectively, Swiss drivers Federico Della Casa and Francesco Parli produced a committed and sensible performance. They thus scored their first points in the Citroën formula.

Winner of the Portuguese round and leader of Citroën Top Driver standings before Sardinia, Bryan Bouffier ran into trouble early on in the Italian round, going off on SS2. Top performer of the weekend, winning seven stages, he was slowed down again towards the end of the race following a technical problem.

Another driver who suffered in the dust, Alastair Fisher finished at the back of the field. After going off on the first stage, he was unable to move up the overall standings despite impressing on a few of the stages. Finally, the event's local boy Simone Campedelli was unlucky, having to retire on two occasions.

"Once again, we saw that race management skills are of critical importance," noted Marek Nawarecki, Customer Racing Manager for Citroën Racing. "We can also see just how high the standard is, given that the majority of the crews had never raced at world level before this year. The standings speak for themselves, as there are just five points between the top five drivers! The teams' challenge is also very close, where Top Teams still leads the way. There's no doubt that there are plenty of surprises and some great racing still to come this season."