Citroën Fights to Secure Precious Points with the C3 WRC in Sardinia
While Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a strong overall result were compromised early on, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia proved once again that they remain fierce competitors, grabbing the second fastest time on the Power Stage and four bonus points.
While Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a strong overall result were compromised early on, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia proved once again that they remain fierce competitors, grabbing the second fastest time on the Power Stage and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm finished in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made an uncharacteristic mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads. Having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg, the French pair were solely focused on attempting to secure a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during Sunday’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the six-time World Champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the World Championship standings, and only four points behind the new leader.
Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1 – 4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.
On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. The Finnish duo were gradually getting their bearings when, running in sixth overall, they dropped almost 40 seconds due to one of their tyres coming loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leader board (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1 seconds off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same position. This rally, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer in the running for a podium position, will help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.
THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND
Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.
Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown by the utter concentration displayed on their faces. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish. Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season.