OGIER-INGRASSIA ON PODIUM IN THE C3 WRC READY TO POUNCE
Despite not being entirely happy with their car, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia spent the opening leg fighting hard in their C3 WRC to end day one in third overall, 22.1s off the leaders. Less at home on this very specific event and suffering similar issues with the car, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm saw their progress somewhat slowed by a spin and ended the leg in seventh position.
A mix of stages held in the Saarland countryside and in the Mosel vineyards, this opening leg immediately served up two of the difficulties that have established the reputation of this event as an extremely challenging rally. And although the Citroën Total World Rally Team was once again among the frontrunners, the Red Army didn't quite enjoy the level of success it had hoped for.
Immediately in the top three after yesterday evening’s opening stage, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed their hopes of a podium when the action resumed this morning. However, a stall on SS3 and some set-up issues – causing understeer – prevented them from expressing themselves fully in the morning. They nonetheless ended the first loop in third place, 13.7s behind the leader. With the balance of the C3 WRC improved during the mid-leg service, the six-time world champions summoned all their strength in the afternoon to make up some ground, but they were slowed by hitting a hay bale on SS6 and running wide into a field on SS7. Having ended the day in third place, 22.1s behind the leader, they will certainly be determined to keep fighting tomorrow to try and close the gap, whilst the technical team will be trying to improve the set-up of C3 WRC further.
Less familiar with this event, where experience counts, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm understandably encountered a few more difficulties than their more seasoned team-mates. They still managed to make it to mid-leg service just 7.3s adrift of the fourth-placed crew, having claimed a fourth fastest time on SS4. Unfortunately, a spin on the opening test of the afternoon (SS5) meant they ended the leg in seventh place, 52.9s off the pace, despite another fourth fastest time on the day’s final stage (SS7).
Day two, the weekend's longest leg (157.92km of timed stages), looks like it might provide plenty of drama. There are two runs on the two stages in the Baumholder military base, this year contested in the opposite direction to usual and where there appears to quite a lot of dirt and debris on the roads, meaning that punctures may be an issue…
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Obviously, we were hoping for more from this opening leg. Although we have undoubtedly made progress on tarmac since Corsica, we need to keep improving the handling of the C3 WRC, like we did with some minor adjustments during the mid-leg service. Everyone in the team is working hard and is extremely focused on trying to ensure our crews can keep fighting and moving up the standings.”
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“Clearly, I'm not happy with first leg. We had quite a bit of understeer today. I was driving over the limit but was still slower than our two rivals. Unfortunately, I also made some small mistakes which cost us time. There is still a very long way to go on this rally, with a very difficult leg ahead tomorrow. We’ll keep giving it everything and try to find some solutions.”
Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“It was a tough day, with understeer and a general lack of grip in the car. The afternoon wasn't much better for me. We’re now going to try and understand what is causing our issues with the technical team.”
STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1
- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 59:12.4
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.8
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +22.1
- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +25.6
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +27.8
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +40.0
- Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +52.9
- Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:05.5
- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.1
media.citroenracing.com Photo credit: @World
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