Sardinia - Citroen Junior Team - Preview
The Citroen Junior Team will run three C4 WRCs for Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt, Evgeny Novikov/Dale Moscatt and Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia at Rally d'Italia–Sardegna, which takes place from May 21-24 around Olbia.
a trip to South America, the FIA World Rally Championship now returns to Europe. Sardinia hosts the sixth of 12 rounds on the 2009 calendar, with a route that has been slightly shaken up compared to previous years.
Some special stages that have now become classics are still on the menu for this sixth running of the event, such as Loelle and Crastazza on Day One, or even Monte Lerno and its crowd-pleasing crest. The new Sa Linea and Fiorenti stages, located closer to the centre of the island, will make a notable feature of the route this year.
Located in the heart of the Mediterranean, Rally d'Italia–Sardegna is often characterised by high temperatures and it will provide a formidable challenge for drivers and machinery.
The Citroen Junior Team is counting on the reliability of its C4 WRCs and the consistency of its crews to make the most of Sardinia, before heading to another hot and challenging rally in Greece several days later. Conrad Rautenbach/Daniel Barritt and Evgeny Novikov/Dale Moscatt will get the chance to score manufacturer points for the team in Italy.
Conrad Rautenbach and Daniel Barritt were unlucky in Argentina but they are both now eagerly looking forward to Rally d'Italia-Sardegna.
"Argentina was just frustrating for us," said the Zimbabwean. "After finishing fourth there last year, we didn't get a chance to defend our prospects when we retired on the second day. So now it's just a question of putting that rally behind us and concentrating on the challenge in Italy."
Rautenbach has already contested the first five World Championship rounds held in Sardinia, taking part in last year's event at the wheel of a C4 WRC. This event though will mark his 50th participation in a World Championship rally.
"I've always liked Sardinia," he said.
"It's quite a technical route with some very varied stages. I've already had some good results in Sardinia in the past, and with a bit more experience of the C4 WRC behind me now, it's one of the rallies I am looking forward to most all year."
Evgeny Novikov and Dale Moscatt gave Argentina a miss but will return to the Citroen Junior Team in Italy.
"I'm very happy to be continuing my season with the Citroen C4 WRC," said the young Russian. "We've already learnt a lot since the start of the year. After Cyprus and Portugal, the Sardinia rally is going to allow us to make more progress on gravel. We're going to be discovering the rally for the first time so it's all brand new territory for us."
Having come back from Argentina with some more points in the bag towards the drivers and manufacturers championships, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia will be eager to confirm their progress in Sardinia. They contested the event last year as part of their victorious JWRC campaign, and the reigning Junior World Rally Champions are eager to do just as good a job this time round.
"It's one of the events that we know a bit, as we drove it in a Citroen C2 Super 1600 last year," commented Ogier. "Now we get the chance to build up a little more experience at the wheel of the C4 WRC. Our goal is simply to drive a consistent rally, without making mistakes, in order to be well placed at the finish."
Rally d'Italia-Sardegna will get underway on Friday 21 May in Olbia. The action begins with an initial loop of three stages on Friday morning, which is repeated in the afternoon.