Another run for Ogier and Ingrassia
This year's World Rally Championship programme for Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia was originally scheduled for 12 events, but now it has been extended to take in New Zealand as well. The French crew is driving a C4 WRC run by the Citroen
Junior Team, and just like last year they now benefit from a full FIA World Rally Championship season in 2010.
The route for the 40th Rally New Zealand incorporates many elements of the itinerary that was run between 2005 and 2008. The first day will take competitors north towards Whangarei on roads that haven't been used on the event for five years. On Saturday the competitors will head south towards Hamilton, where the Rally New Zealand was formerly based. Finally, the last day will be concentrated on the west coast around Raglan including two passes over the famous Whaanga Coast test (SS19 and SS21), which all the drivers love.
Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were meant to have taken part in just 12 rallies this year, but now they have an unexpected bonus in the form of Rally New Zealand. The decision was taken on the Rally Mexico, following a stunning performance from the 2008 Junior World Rally Champion. The budget to make the trip to New Zealand, where Ogier and Ingrassia will be competing on completely new territory for them, was topped up with the help of Citroen Racing's partners.
"I'm expecting it to be a more difficult rally for us than Turkey, as we are discovering an event that the other drivers already know well," said Sebastien. "But I really can't wait to get started, as the stages in New Zealand are some of the best in the world." After setting 12 fastest stage times so far this season, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are among the best performers of 2010. Only Sebastien Loeb
and Petter Solberg are in front of them.
In New Zealand, the firm objective for Sebastien and Julien will be to gain experience on a completely new event for them. New Zealand also marks the occasion of their 25th World Rally Championship start, in their 19th different country! "I think it's a rally that I'm going to like," Sebastien added. "It will be a really nice opportunity for me to drive the Citroen C4 WRC on fast and flowing stages."
The 40th Rally New Zealand will start on May 6 from Auckland: the country's largest city, which is home to about a third of the population. With a total of 396.5 competitive kilometres, this will be the longest round of the World Rally Championship since the 2003 Rallye de France-Tour de Corse.
Three questions to... Sebastien Ogier
How did you get back from Istanbul?
"I only had to wait for one day in Istanbul before I was able to get a plane to Lyon and return home. By contrast, Julien went all the way back to France by coach with some of the team. I've not got too much to complain about compared to some other people!"
New Zealand wasn't on your programme at the start of the year. How did the decision to do this extra event come about?
"Our initial programme was for 12 rounds of the World Rally Championship. Then the team managed to get the budget together to fund the remaining event. I think our results since the start of the year certainly created extra motivation for everyone."
You seem to have made a notable step forwards since last year. What has changed?
"It's a massive help to have had one full season of the World Rally Championship already behind me in the Citroen C4 WRC. Rallying is a sport that requires a lot of experience if you want to fight at the front. All the different stages on all the different surfaces that we have covered so far in the C4 allow us to drive at a much quicker pace now. We're maybe taking a few more risks, but we're keeping calm about it. We still have a lot to learn, but our results show that we are on the right road."