The second round of the 2008 World Rally Championship got underway this morning with the pre-start shakedown which used a new 2.6km stage located near the main service park in Karlstad. CitroŽn C4 WRC crews Sebastien Loeb
/Daniel Elena and Dani Sordo/Marc MartŪ were amongst the first
to tackle the test with a view to profiting from the best possible conditions to make fine-tuning adjustments to their cars.
They were greeted by bright sunshine and mild temperatures which is hardly the sort of weather most people associate with the Swedish fixture. Even so, the CitroŽn Total squad made full use of the four-hour session to further familiarise themselves with the new Sotto Zero studded Pirelli tyres and also hone the set-ups of the two cars. At the end of the morning, the team was pleased with its work and was able to concentrate on preparing for this eveningís super-special.
"The first passes were sufficiently icy for us to learn a few things," observed Sebastien Loeb
. "Itís always a pleasure to drive in these conditions. With each passing car, however, ruts began to form and dirt started to become exposed. Thatís much less fun, I have to say, but it was still worth seeing how our car and tyres performed because we will probably come across these conditions in the course of the weekend."
"So long as the conditions were still icy, we were able to profit fully from our car and tyres," added Dani Sordo. "It wasnít so nice, though, when the surface began to cut up. When it gets like that, thereís not much you can because itís impossible to get out of the ruts. Even so, it was still a good morning and we were able to see how our C4 WRC reacted in a variety of different conditions."
The crew of the Nį2 C4 WRC will begin this weekendís event with a five-minute time penalty following an engine swap after Januaryís Monte Carlo Rally. "When we got back to the factory, inspection of the Monte engine revealed that it had suffered more than we had initially thought following the turbo problem that occurred on the third day. Given that the engine which competes in Sweden will go on to contest the Rally Mexico, too, we deemed it preferable to change engines in order to make sure that Dani and Marc were given the best chance possible," said CitroŽn Sport Director Olivier Quesnel.
"My first run with the CitroŽn C4 WRC has got off to a good start," reported Urmo Aava who is making his debut here in a CitroŽn WRC prepared by PH Sport with support from CitroŽn Sport Technologies technicians. "I tried to find a set-up in which I felt confident and I need to get kilometres under my belt to really learn the car." Conrad Rautenbach is driving a Xsara WRC, it too prepared by PH Sport with support from CitroŽn Sport Technologies technicians. He made the most of the morning to get a feel for his carís handling in the slippery conditions: "After asphalt, itís on to ice here. My main objective this morning was to find my marks with the Xsara WRC and everything went very well."
Action kicks off this evening when competitors leave the service park at 8pm for the super-special round the local hippodrome before parking up in the overnight parc ferme from 8.44pm.