Ogier and Raikkonen show their class
The eagerly awaited first asphalt round of the World Rally Championship allowed the two Citroen Junior Team crews to show their potential. At the end of the Rally Bulgaria, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia formed part of a historic one-two-three-four
formation finish for Citroen, while Kimi Raikkonen
and Kaj Lindstrom set some top stage times.
While Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia's objective was to maintain their fourth place overall today, Kimi Raikkonen
and Kaj Lindstrom still needed to push to claim 10th place and the one World Championship drivers' point that came with it. As the result of a 10-minute penalty after going off the road at the end of the opening day, Kimi and Kaj started the day in 14th place: 2m46.5s off the 10th place that was held by Henning Solberg.
On the first stage, the Finns got back more than 40 seconds, followed by another 35 seconds on the following stage. This was enough to place them 11th. "We're pushing hard again today," said Kimi. "Everything went well although I had a slightly strange feeling on the second stage. The team is going to change the front anti-roll bar at service."
Meanwhile, Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held onto their overall position. "After losing a minute on the first day, we can't fight with Dani Sordo and Petter Solberg anymore," explained Sebastien. "That's a pity, but it also allows us to concentrate on understanding our Citroen C4 WRC in asphalt specification. We're trying out some settings that maybe we wouldn't have risked if we were in the middle of a tight battle and that's very good for our learning process."
On the final loop of stages, Kimi continued reducing the gap to the top 10 by taking more than 45 seconds from Henning Solberg in Muhovo 2. But the Finn made a small mistake on the final stage and had to settle for 11th overall in the end. "At least we tried!" he said at the finish. "Our feeling with the car was very good throughout the rally and that's extremely positive for what is only our first asphalt event. We keep on learning and I have the feeling that we're making progress now."
Sebastien Ogier eventually finished fourth behind three more Citroen C4 WRCs, having set fastest time on the final stage. The Frenchman was able to draw an extremely positive conclusion from the first asphalt rally of the season. "It's a great result for the championship," he said. "We've shown as of now that we're able to fight for a podium on asphalt, which is extremely promising for the rest of the season. Now we're going to concentrate on the forthcoming Rally Finland, which we'll be contesting for the first time with the Citroen Total World Rally Team."
Team manager Benoit Nogier concluded: "It's been another good day for the Citroen Junior Team and yet another rally without any technical problems for us. That's a great tribute to the whole team, which has once more prepared the two Citroen C4 WRCs perfectly. The team's performance on Friday night, which allowed Kimi to restart the rally on Saturday, was equally remarkable. Citroen has again shown that asphalt is a very strong surface for the brand, while our two drivers have displayed some fascinating potential for the future."