Triple finish for Citroen Junior Team in Norway
- 16th February 2009, 10:38am
The three CitroÃ«n Junior Team crews returned to Hamar late Sunday after the third and final day of Rally Norway. Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt score two points in the World Championship for Manufacturers, while Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have placed their CitroÃ«n C4 WRC in the top 10.
The final day of the Rally Norway took competitors to the east, not far from the Swedish border. The Norwegian organisers had chosen to finish the second round of the World Rally Championship on a high, with the longest day of the rally made up of 126 competitive kilometres split over six special stages. Just as had been the case during the previous days, freezing cold temperatures ensured perfect winter conditions for this snow event.
Having started the day in 10th place overall, SÃ©bastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia set out with the objective of demonstrating their potential.
"I found it quite difficult to find the right pace on the first stage," acknowledged Sebastien. "Afterwards, I was able to relax a bit and attack more in the next two stages. Iâ€™m beginning to have a really good feeling at the wheel of the Citroen C4 WRC in these tricky conditions."
Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt hung onto their 11th place.
"Everythingâ€™s going fine," said the Zimbabwean. "Weâ€™re not taking any big risks as the gaps in front and behind are quite big. During the first loop of stages, we made a few corrections to our pace notes."
Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt decided to attack this morning. The Russian maintained a strong pace during the morning and commented: "The Citroen C4 WRC is really competitive. I still need to learn a bit more about it but I find the braking and the power from the engine absolutely exceptional. During the first three stages, I made a few small mistakes. In particular, I stalled in the first stage. Then we hit a snowbank and also we went straight on. Itâ€™s all part of learning."
After visiting the service park in Hamar, Sebastien Ogier continued his progress. On the second run through Valer, the longest stage of the rally, the reigning Junior World Rally Champion was quickest of all at the halfway point of the stage â€“ in the midst of a frenetic battle for the lead.
"We were pushing on!" said Ogier enthusiastically. "But then we brushed a snowbank and spun in a narrow section."
Despite the time lost, the Equipe de France FFSA driver finished in the top 10.
"It was a very rewarding rally," he concluded. "Iâ€™m happy with my performances even though we made a few mistakes. But when the opportunity presented itself, we could be quick. Thatâ€™s a very positive sign for the future."
Having joined the Citroen Junior Team for Rally Norway, Evgeny Novikov revealed some of his potential. The 18-year-old Russian ended up in 12th place.
"It was vital for us to be at the end of this rally, on our debut in the Citroen Junior Team C4 WRC," said Novikov. "Although we had a few problems, we can draw a positive conclusion from this first experience. The car is very competitive. Weâ€™ve learnt a lot and I canâ€™t wait to get to Cyprus now!"
Conrad Rautenbach continued to make progress right to the end of the rally.
"Weâ€™ve enjoyed ourselves enormously this weekend," he commented. "The conditions were fantastic. At the end of this event, I feel more comfortable in the car and Iâ€™m keen to get to Cyprus now."
At final service the crew handed in their time cards before the finish, as the result of a technical problem.
"Just as was the case in Ireland, our three Citroen C4 WRCs have got to the end of Rally Norway," concluded Citroen Junior Team manager Benoit Nogier. "Our crews were able to build up experience that will certainly be extremely useful for the future. After a good opening day we had to endure a painful Saturday, but everything fell back into place today. Sebastien did an extremely good job and came close to setting a fastest time on the second run through the longest stage of the rally. Evgeny also showed his potential by driving at the same pace as the frontrunners by the end of the rally. As for Conrad, he drove a consistent rally on very specialised terrain."
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