Elpa Rally - CitroŽn Sport - Preview
After a break of more than a month, it's back to work for Simon Jean-Joseph and Jack BoyŤre, whose European Rally Championship campaign resumes with this weekend's Elpa Rally in Greece. The French pair will contest the ninth round of
the series with the PH Sport-run CitroŽn C2 Super 1600.
For the first time since 2002, the penultimate round of the ERC returns to the Halkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece. The other major change this year is the event's mixed format, with the superspecial and opening leg all on asphalt before switching to gravel for the second day. The majority of the action (148km) takes place on gravel, however, while the rally features an otherwise classic menu of several loops of stages to be contested twice each.
After its busy summer schedule, which took it to a long list of ERC and Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) rounds, PH Sport profited from the break that followed late-August's Barum Rally to carefully prepare the CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 that will compete in Greece. Meanwhile, Simon Jean-Joseph used the time to hone his physical fitness.
"It will be nice to be back in action again," he says. "I'm looking forward to getting back onto the stages and I'm really excited by the events that are coming up, beginning with the Elpa Rally.
"Thanks to my experience of the Acropolis Rally and of various Greek European Championship rounds, I have a fair amount of experience of Greek-style stages," the Martinique-based driver observes.
"That will doubtlessly come in useful for the Elpa Rally which this year takes place in a region that is pretty much unknown territory for me. Apart from the fact that it's a mixed-surface event, I know little about it. As a rule, the asphalt in Greece isn't that hard-wearing but it offers relatively little grip, although the gravel frequently warrants its reputation as being particularly punishing. Let's hope it won't be too rough this weekend," he declared.
"I enjoy both types of surface, so the format isn't a problem for me," adds Simon, who is currently third in the ERC standings. "In fact, as a driver, I think mixed events are a good idea. That said, it's not really to our advantage against the four-wheel drive cars. We will do our utmost to be as quick and consistent as possible and try to score as many points as we can. The C2's strength and performance will be invaluable in helping us achieve that goal."
PH Sport boss Bernard Piallat says that the mixed-surface format doesn't pose his team any particular problems: "The most important thing is to prepare thoroughly beforehand so that we don't forget anything when we swap the C2 Super 1600 from asphalt to gravel spec, which essentially involves the suspension, brakes, wishbones and subframes, etc. We will also add underbody protection."
"The team knows the C2 inside out and the job is reasonably straightforward with this car. We will have 2 hours and 45 minutes to make the changes and that should be amply sufficient. Indeed, the mechanics are quite excited at the prospect; it will make a pleasant change," Piallat adds.
"Simon Jean-Joseph, Jack BoyŤre and the CitroŽn C2 Super 1600 have been strong on both asphalt and gravel all season," points out CitroŽn Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton.
"This weekend's mixed format is another interesting challenge for them and will also give them a fresh chance to show off their skills on both types of surface. They will be able to count on the speed and reliability of their CitroŽn to try to score the points they need to be in with a chance of finishing in the final top-three of the ERC when the championship heads to Antibes, France, for the final round of the year," Matton concludes.
Source Citroen Sport