Novikov stars for Citroen Junior team
- 15th June 2009, 8:47am
The Citroen Junior Team has reached the podium for the first time in its short history in the FIA World Rally Championship. France's reigning Junior WRC champion Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia drove a controlled final day to claim second place overall on the Acropolis Rally of Greece.
Fifth place fell to their Zimbabwean teammate Conrad Rautenbach and British co-driver Daniel Barritt, while Russian teenager Evgeny Novikov and his Australian co-driver Dale Moscatt claimed points for Citroen at the end of one of the performances of the year.
The Acropolis got underway for the third and final day's action to the east of host town Loutraki on the Corinthian coastline with five special stages on the schedule, totalling 95.26 competitive kilometres. However a huge number of spectators overcrowding the penultimate stage required the organisers to abandon the second 8.98km Loutraki stage, SS16.
Starting from second on the road in the morning, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held a comfortable margin over their rivals and opted for a conservative but consistent approach to the final day to ensure their first-ever podium in their debut season on the FIA World Rally Championship. " Apart from a little disagreement with a stray cow on one of the stages this morning today went very well, " Ogier said. " This result is excellent. "
The Acropolis, one of the most famous and gruelling events in the world championship, marked only the eighth time that Ogier has competed at the top level. " It was just a perfect weekend for us, and this second place comes at a good time. Our strategy was the key to this result, we learned a lot from completing it with very few problems and it's a great reward for the team who have put in so much effort since the start of the season. With Julien, we are happy to see the C4 WRC on the podium and both want to thank Citroen for the confidence shown in us."
A delighted Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt claimed five points for the Citroen Junior Team with their fifth place finish: " It was an incredibly difficult event, " said Rautenbach. " We fought until the end to try to claim fourth place overall, and I am a little disappointed not to have won my duel against Frederico Villagra, but our result and that of the team are very good all the same! " With four best stage times out of the 15 competitive stages, 18-year-old Evgeny Novikov and co-driver Dale Moscatt had to endure a last difficult day because of problems with their transmission. Nevertheless his performance throughout the event left the Russian overjoyed: " I had come with the objective to go for strong, competitive times, and it's extremely satisfying to have been fastest on four stages, " he said. " Our final position is a little disappointing but we showed our potential and gained a lot of experience. "
" This made result of the good to all the team, " said Benoit Nogier, Manager of the Citroen Junior Team. "We have come through a difficult start to the season, but the team progressed and the success is perhaps from now on on our side."
" It is the first time that a non-works C4 WRC has finished on the podium in a WRC event. Seeing all three cars safely home is also very satisfying. Sebastien, who finish second, Evgeny, with a brilliant performance, and Conrad, who made very good time, made a super result. In Poland, all the competitors will be discovering a new rally. I hope that we will take momentum from this result and continue the progress we have made over the last two rallies! "
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