Victory for the Citroen C2 Super 1600 in the Junior World Rally Championship
The opening round of this year's Junior World Rally Championship came to a close today with victory for the crew of Ogier and Ingrassia, who are not entered in the C2 Junior Experience. Consequently,
Sebastien and Julien lead the JWRC drivers' and co-drivers' standings.
The Citroen drivers proved their worth with some excellent performances from the very first special stage. Sebastien Ogier led his first World Championship rally from the very beginning and won all three legs of the event after a faultless performance. " Everything was new for me at the start of this rally, " he said at the end of the final stage. " I had to learn the car, the championship and my rivals, so to end up in first place today is a huge satisfaction for the entire team. We've got five more rallies to go, and I really hope that we can continue in this way. " Sebastien, backed by Citroen, Total and the Equipe de France FFSA (the French motorsport federation), has accordingly taken a maximum score in the Junior World Rally Championship.
Another consistent driver, and the first Citroen finisher entered in the C2 Junior Experience, was Aaron Burkart in fourth. The young German never felt entirely at ease with the Mexican stages, but still managed to finish in the top five. Behind him, Shaun Gallagher was sixth after a difficult weekend. " Shaun was feeling ill over the first few days of the rally and he did not have the chance to get fully up to speed with his C2 Super 1600, " explained Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Sport's customer division. " Nonetheless he has still scored some championship points, but he will need to try and find a better feeling with his car for the next rounds. "
In seventh position, Martin Prokop and Jan Tomanek went off the road in SS1 and lost too much time to regain places in the Junior classification. " We had hoped for some good things from Martin before the start of the season, " said Jean-Francois Lienere. " Without that off- road excursion he would have been right at the top of the classification, as his times on days two and three showed. " The final Citroen competitor, Team Transylvania driver Francesco Fanari, accomplished his mission to finish his first rally at the wheel of the C2-R2. Following a broken gearbox pinion on day two, he restarted the final day under the SupeRally rules.
Samuel Barraud, technical manager of the Citroen Sport customer division, drew a positive conclusion from the performances of the C2s in Mexico. " Despite the high altitude in Mexico and the subsequent power loss, our perfect engine mapping kept these problems to a minimum. The set-up that we supplied to everybody a month before the rally also made it easier for the teams to prepare technically for the event, which is amongst the most difficult of all the Junior rallies this year. In conclusion, thanks to this good set-up, we also noticed less tyre wear on the Citroens compared to any of the other cars."
Jean-Francois Lienere concluded : " We're very pleased by the victory of Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia here. As for the C2 Junior Experience drivers, they fell somewhat short of our expectations. Aaron Burkart was fourth, Shaun Gallagher was sixth, Martin Prokop was seventh and Francesco Fanari was eighth. That doesn't really reflect just how competitive our C2s are."
Rally Mexico `Junior' classification, end of day 3*
1. S.Ogier/J.Ingrassia (Citroen C2 Super 1600) 3h 58 min 54.8s
2. J.Molder/F.Miclotte (Suzuki Swift S1600) + 1 min 31.9s
3. M.Kosciuszko/M.Szczepaniak (Suzuki Swift S1600) + 3 min 05.2s
4. A.Burkart/M.Koelbach (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 6 min 01.8s
5. P.Sandell/E.Axelsson (Renault Clio S1600) + 7 min 45.7s
6. S.Gallagher/M.Morrissey (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 15 min 21.2s
7. M.Prokop/J.Tomanek (Citroen C2 Super 1600) + 49 min 48.4s
8. F.Fanari/M.Bosi (Citroen C2-R2) + 52 min 34.0s
FIA Junior Championship classification, after Rally Mexico*
1. Sebastien Ogier 10 pts
2. Jaan Molder 8 pts
3. Michal Kosciuszko 6 pts
4. Patrick Sandell 5 pts
5. Aaron Burkart 4 pts
6. Shaun Gallagher 3 pts
7. Martin Prokop 2 pts
8. Francisco Fanari 1 pt
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA