Rautenbach enjoys final day in Sardinia

Rautenbach enjoys final day in SardiniaFrom Conrad Rautenbach Press [ 18/05/2008 ].
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Conrad Rautenbach enjoyed his most competitive day of Rally d'Italia-Sardgena today. The reigning FIA African Rally Champion's exceptional form was mirrored by the faultless performance of the PH Sport-run Citroen C4 WRC he was driving. He and British co-driver David Senior began the day 14th, but soon caught and passed Munchi's Ford driver Federico Villagra to end the event 13th overall.

 

Rautenbach posted sixth quickest time on the first run through the
Sorillis test (SS13), demonstrating what he was capable of given a
clean run in the Citroen. From then on, he was never out of the top 10
stage times until the end of the event. His efforts were also good
enough for him to consistently take time out of and close right up on
Stobart driver Matthew Wilson and highly rated Norwegian driver Mads
Ostberg.

Technical:
The handbrake mechanism which had caused problems on the first two
days – dipping the clutch on the car and leaving Rautenbach devoid of
power and forward motion – was disconnected for the final day. In
addition to that, the PH Sport made numerous changes to the C4 WRC in
an effort to find more power from the engine. At the final service on
Saturday night, the engine map was altered, new spark plugs and a new
coil pack were fitted. At service following the first two stages, the
front of the car was softened in an attempt to find more grip on
turn-in to the corners.

Conrad Rautenbach quote:
"Today has been a great day, our best yet with the car. It's really
good to be up there and putting some good times in, but at the same
time that makes the rest of the event and the problems we've
experienced even more frustrating. If only we'd had a clean run for
the rest of the rally… But I guess that's the way the sport goes. The
team did a lot of work to the engine last night and it really helped.
I'd noticed the power had been a little bit lazy. There just wasn't
the same sort of punch coming out of corners which we should have had.
We got it all right today, it was fantastic.
"Not having the handbrake mechanism thing going on in the back of my
mind helped – I just focused on the driving. I enjoyed the stages
today, but they were still very tricky in places. We did some work on
the suspension after the first two, I felt the car was crashing out on
the bumps rather than absorbing them, which was making it harder to
get the car turned in. But the changes worked a treat and the
afternoon was even better.
"I've felt we've made some real progress with the car today. It's not
just about learning to drive the car for me, it's about a whole lot of
other stuff. It's about me learning to drive around the problems which
I encounter in the car. I know things like the handbrake problem
shouldn't affect me, but this is still a new car for me. If I'd had
that kind of an issue in the C2 last year, I wouldn't have even
thought about it – I'd have just got on, driven the stage and ignored
it. That's what I'm starting to do with this car. That kind of thing
is about experience, it's going to take time.
"As I said, it's a shame today was our first day with no problems. But
now it's about looking ahead to Greece. I'm determined to get through
the Acropolis without any trouble and have more days like today."