CITROËN TOTAL WRT HIT BY BAD LUCK
Having made a solid start to the opening leg despite running first on the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were unfortunately forced to retire in the afternoon when they ran into a snow bank. Although their C3 WRC was undamaged, it became stuck in the verge and they were unable to get going again. The recent winners of Rallye Monte-Carlo will rejoin tomorrow. Also having made a promising start to their race despite a spin, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended the day on a high with a second fastest time, moving them up to fifth place.
The weekend’s longest day (seven stages over a competitive distance of 137.41km), today’s opening leg was mainly held over the border in Norway, on generally more technical stages. Equally covered with more snow than usual, the roads were unable to withstand the mild weather of the last few days, turning into a genuine mudbath in places on the second loop.
Positioned just outside the podium places at midday (in fifth, 14.4s off the pace), once again showing their consistent presence among the leaders, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were among those who suffered in the slippery conditions. First to come up against the ruts full of water left by the historic cars completing the stages between the WRC’s morning and afternoon loops, the Frenchmen were unfortunately caught out on Svullrya (SS6, 24.88km) when they clipped a snow bank and became stuck. With no spectators around to help them get going again, the stranded no.1 C3 WRC crew had to retire. They will rejoin the race tomorrow, looking to make use of the remaining stages as an in-competition test.
A little earlier, on Hof-Finnskog (SS5, 21,26 km), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately suffered a high-speed spin that proved costly in terms of time. The Finns went from being within a second of the future stage winner half-way through the stage, evidence of the confidence they had in their C3 WRC, to dropping 35.9s by the end of the test. They had to cope with a damaged aerodynamic package from that point onwards, quite a handicap on these roads where high-speed stability is important. Nevertheless, it didn't prevent them from grabbing the second fastest time (just three tenths off the pace) on the day’s final stage, ending the leg in fifth overall, 42.0s off the lead. They will have a good starting position tomorrow and will be determined to pick up their promising opening leg performance.
Day two will see the crews tackle a competitive distance of almost hundred and thirty kilometres again (over eight stages), including Colin’s Crest, the famous jump on the Vargasen stage.
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, it’s a bit of a mixed bag today with the retirement of Sébastien and Julien, who paid a high price for a small mistake in what were pretty tough conditions. They clearly didn't deserve such bad luck, especially after completing a strong opening loop. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne had a bit of an up-and-down leg. There’s no denying they made a mistake, but I was most of all impressed by their promising pace, which certainly gives them reason to be hopeful for the rest of the rally.“
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“We had had a good first loop this morning. But we knew that the second loops here are always very tricky, especially when you are first on the road. I only had a slight impact with a snow bank, but we ended up stuck. With no fans nearby, we had no chance of getting going again.“
Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a difficult day, with quite a few errors among the crews and unfortunately, I was of the ones to make a mistake. I am nonetheless pleased with the way in which I ended the leg and with the progress I made in the handling of my C3 WRC on these stages. In recce, there was less ice on tomorrow’s stages than those we contested today, so I expect there will be quite a bit of gravel and mud on the roads. I’ll need to look after the studs more, but I’m going to keep pushing like we have done so far.“
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
- Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) 1:11:05.3
- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2.0
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +17.8
- Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +28.6
- Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +42.0
- Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.8
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +52.7
- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +53.1
- Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:24.4
media.citroenracing.comPhoto credit: © @World
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