Solberg & Co up for Alsace Challange

Solberg & Co up for Alsace ChallangeFrom Citroen Press [ 26/09/2011 ].
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Petter Solberg, Kimi Räikkönen and Peter van Merksteijn Jr will all start the Rally de France-Alsace at the wheel of their Citroën Racing Technologies Citroën DS3 WRCs. The Citroën privateer drivers who scored points in Rally Germany – the first tarmac event of the season – are all determined to move up the World Rally Championship classification.

Rallye de France-Alsace appeared on the calendar last year and immediately became one of the most popular rounds of the season. The spectators, massed on the sides of the roads in the Alsatian and Vosges stages, were all rooting for Loeb and Citroën creating a unique ambience. Rain, which is frequent in the early autumn, can make the fast roads very slippery, as can the gravel projected onto the tarmac when cars cut the apex of the corners turning this event into a real challenge for the drivers.

Norwegian, Petter Solberg, will be starting his eleventh ‘Rallye de France’ this year, an event he has already won as he came first in the 2003 Tour of Corsica. Solberg scored another podium finish in Rally Australia and is currently fifth in the Drivers’ World Championship: “This result was a great reward for the whole team, and it’s given our motivation a mega-boost for the last three events of the season. Tarmac isn’t my favourite surface but I like this rally. The roads are very quick and you have to watch out for the multiple grip changes. I finished third in 2010, and I’m hoping for a result that’ll be at least as good this year.”

Kimi Räikkönen did not take part in Rally Australia, and the French round marks his return to the WRC. He had to retire last year and is back for revenge: “I like driving on gravel, but tarmac is more natural for me. I’m tackling this rally like all the others - trying to avoid mistakes and cover the maximum number of kilometres to gain experience.”

Peter Van Merksteijn Jr. finished the last two rallies and is determined to continue his apprenticeship in the world championship. Last weekend, the driver of the eponymous team competed in the Hellendoorn Rally to keep his hand in. He swapped his DS3 WRC for a C4 WRC, and won the round, beating Dennis Kuipers. This result has given the Dutchman’s confidence a huge boost and he will tackle the Alsatian event ready to burn up the tarmac.