Ogier surprises, Raikkonen learns
The Citroen Junior Team got its second World Rally Championship campaign underway on the snowy roads of Rally Sweden. The first full day allowed Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, in fifth place overnight, to display all their skills
on what was only their first visit to this event. Kimi Raikkonen
and Kaj Lindstrom continued to climb their learning curve in the Citroen C4 WRC.
The Rally Sweden got underway yesterday evening with a spectator superspecial on the Karlstad trotting track. From the very first stage, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia showed their class by setting second- fastest time, just behind another Citroen C4 WRC driven by Dani Sordo.
The action resumed on Friday morning with the Likenas stage (SS2). Sebastien Ogier was right in the middle of the action with a fifth-quickest time. In `Viggen' and `Torntorp', the Frenchman underlined his progress by defeating a number of well-known names. "It was a good start," he said. "Only the real frontrunners are ahead of us. Being classified higher than drivers like Marcus Gronholm
, along with Henning and Petter Solberg is a really good source of motivation!"
For Kimi Raikkonen
and Kaj Lindstrom, the start of the day was trickier despite their very best efforts. Having been forced to follow Khalid Al Qassimi for a large part of the stage, the Finns lost a number of vital seconds. "I was caught in a huge cloud of snow and I could see absolutely nothing," said Kimi. "But that's how it is: there is nothing we can do about it."
Sebastien Ogier managed to maintain the same pace during the second loop of stages, which took place in bright sunshine. The number seven Citroen C4 WRC ended the opening day in a fine fifth place overall. "Some parts of the road turned into a bit of a minefield during the second run," commented Sebastien. "It was important to be careful. We didn't take any risks and I tried just to maintain a sensible pace."
On his first Rally Sweden and only his second ever snow event, the Frenchman displayed an impressive turn of speed. "It's a surface I really enjoy," he added. "We're very pleased to be placed this high overnight. We could hardly have expected to be better than fifth during the normal course of events. Now we just have to carry on like this." Kimi Raikkonen
embarked on the second loop of stages with the goal of getting as many kilometres under his belt as possible. But in 'Viggen' (SS6), the Finn was caught out. Following a spin, Kimi was turning the car round to get back pointing in the right direction. Unfortunately he was unable to see where he was going and nudged the car into a snow bank. "Everything was going fine until we put the car into the snow," he commented afterwards. "It took some time to get back onto the road again. There were no spectators; only a helicopter filming us overhead. I would have much preferred it if he had decided to pull us out instead..."
Following a 25-minute struggle, Kimi and Kaj finally regained the road. The former F1 World Champion concluded: "I'm a bit disappointed to have lost all that time, but now we are able to continue at least and gain more experience. For the moment, I just want to understand the Citroen C4 WRC and continue to learn."