ONE LAST REPRESENTATIVE PRACTICE SESSION
Craig Breen – Scott Martin finished fifth in today's shakedown whilst Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen ended the session eleventh fastest, making the most of the opportunity to drive on a representative stage as they tried to get their bearings on this unusual road surface and fine-tune the last few details of their preparations.
With some sections shared with tomorrow's Orara East stage (SS1/SS4) and Sunday's Wedding Bells test (SS21/SS24), today's 5.07km shakedown provided the crews with the chance to familiarise themselves with the road surface and conditions that are impossible to faithfully reproduce in European tests.
Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT's crews focused on confirming the work done on defining the set-up before the rally and also on analysing the various options as regards tyres choice. After setting what was the fastest time on their third attempt, Craig Breen and Scott Martin ended up finishing fifth, just eight tenths off the stage-winning time, after completing five runs. Yet further evidence that they are in sparkling form at the moment. Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen, who hadn't driven the C3 WRC since Wales Rally GB, completed an extra run as they gradually got their bearings back. They ended the session in eleventh position, 1.6s off the pace.
Tomorrow's opening leg will see the competitors tackle 101.68 kilometres, spread over eight stages, with the weather forecast suggesting there may be rain…
WHAT THEY SAID
"We used this test session to review various things and it was quite positive. The feeling in the car is good and I hope that our good position on the road on day one will help me get into the swing of things very quickly, after missing the last round in Spain."
"It was a good shakedown to get us back into "gravel" mode after Spain. On my third attempt, I felt really comfortable and the time just came naturally. We then tested some different tyre options. I really enjoyed my first appearance here last year, especially as I was right in the mix before running into trouble on Sunday's leg. I hope I can be there or thereabouts this year, even though the rain forecast means we might be in for an unpredictable weekend."
- Ogier / Ingrassia (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:53.8
- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.0
- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:54.0
- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.1
- Breen / Martin (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:54.6
- Paddon / Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) 2:54.7
- Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:54.9
- Lappi / Ferm (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:55.0
- Suninen / Markkula (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:55.1
- Evans / Barritt (Ford Fiesta WRC) 2:55.2
- Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 WRC) 2:55.4