Citroen Juniors survive day one

Citroen Juniors survive day oneFrom Citroen Press [ 13/03/2009 ].
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This eagerly-awaited opening day of the Cyprus Rally firmly underlined the adaptability of the Citroen Junior Team drivers. All three Citroen C4 WRC crews of Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia, Evgeny Novikov/Dale Moscatt and Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt end the asphalt leg of the rally within the top 10.

As a mixed-surface event, the first day of the Cyprus Rally took place entirely on asphalt
and allowed the Citroen Junior Team crews to showcase their abilities. At the end of the
very first special stage, which took in more than 30 challenging kilometres, Sebastien
Ogier and Julien Ingrassia occupied fifth place. « The roads were already very dirty, even
though just six WRC cars were in front of us, but I am happy with our performances, »
said the Equipe de France FFSA backed driver. « We’re less than half a second per
kilometre off Sebastien Loeb in some places, and I think that we can still do better. »

The reigning Junior World Rally Champion ends the day in sixth place. « There’s still a
long way to go, » he concluded. « Tomorrow, we’ll try to set off at a good pace. We need
to try and get closer to Petter Solberg with the aim of taking fifth place. »

Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt made progress throughout the day, ending it on a high
with fifth-fastest time on the final stage and a provisional seventh overnight. « We made a
few small mistakes in the morning and had a slight impact on SS4, » he said. « The car is
extremely competitive. Our fifth-fastest time this evening is encouraging for the rest of the
event. I’m keen to get onto gravel now tomorrow, where I’m going to try and keep up the
same pace. »

After a difficult day, Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt are in ninth place: less than 10
seconds off the top eight. « It was a tricky day, » he said. « On the second loop of stages,
we had some rain and so we lost time. The car is competitive and there is still an
extremely long way to go on this event. Let’s see what happens tomorrow. »

« Our drivers showed their capabilities by proving to be more competitive than their direct
rivals, even though they made some small mistakes that were mostly down to lack of
experience, » confirmed Benoit Nogier, the Team Manager of the Citroen Junior Team.
« The Citroen C4 WRCs had no problems whatsoever. Tomorrow, we will face gravel.
We’re all hoping to get a lot out of the second day here, even though the rain that we are
experiencing at the moment is likely to shake things up a bit. »

Returning to the WRC calendar for the first time since 2006, the new event format
(mixing asphalt stages on the first day with gravel on day 2 and day 3), brings on a whole
new complexion on the Cyprus Rally. The competitors will leave asphalt roads behind
them in order to compete on the loose surface on special stages. These conditions will be
more favourable to the Pirelli Scorpion tyres that all the WRC cars are running throughout
this event.