Catalunya : Citroen / JWRC - Preview
The Rally Catalunya is the second round of this season's revised-format Junior World Rally Championship which kicked off with February's Swedish Rally.
The principal change to the series sees a switch to a nine-event calendar comprising
Sweden and Catalunya, plus Corsica, Argentina, Sardinia, Germany, Finland, Turkey and Great Britain. For budget reasons, drivers will only contest six events and entrants officially nominated their individual programmes before the start of the year.
"This formula seems to have had a beneficial effect on the entry," believes Citroën Sport's Customer Competition Manager Yves Matton. "On the other hand, it means the main title contenders will perhaps only clash directly three times in the course of the season. Certain drivers haven't selected a single asphalt rally. That might be good for us, but we clearly prefer face-to-face competition."
Five C2 Super 1600s have been entered for the RACCRally Catalunya-Costa Daurada, although their ranks do not include the reigning Junior Champ Dani Sordo. "Dani was initially supposed to have defended his crown," says Yves Matton. "However, given his good results so far with the Xsara WRC, his backers and partners wanted to see him drive a World Rally Car in Catalunya and Corsica. Citroën Sport readily agreed to this and the necessary authorisation was obtained from the FIA. As a consequence, we contacted Brice Tirabassi."
The five C2 Super 1600s will be run by three different teams. PH Sport (winner of the JWRC title in 2001 and 2002 with Sebastien Loeb
and Dani Solŕ) will run Kris Meeke/Glenn Patterson (3rd in the 2005 series), Brice Tirabassi/Jacques-Julien Renucci (2003 JWRC champions) and Julien Pressac/Gilles de Turckheim (winners of the 2005 French C2 Rally Challenge).
Czechs Martin Prokop/Jan Tománek (9th in the 2005 Junior championship) will drive a car prepared by their own outfit, Jipocar Racing, which is based in Jihlava, between Prague and Brno. Jipocar purchased the Kronos Racing cars used last year by Kris Meeke and Dani Sordo. Finally, Germans Aaron Burkart/Jörg Bastuck have placed their confidence in Hanover-based PRT (Prinz Rallye Technik).
"After Kronos Racing last year, the cars that Citroën Sport will follow the most closely this year are those run by PH Sport," adds Yves Matton. "Kronos is focusing on its WRC programme and PH Sport has significant experience of the JWRC." Technically, "the C2 Super 1600s are in what we call the '2006 spec' which was validated during last year's Junior campaign," says Customer Competition Technical Manager Alexis Avril. "That doesn't mean they won't evolve. We will react if we need to. Our winter testing programme with Kris Meeke was aimed essentially at adapting to the new tyres and we are naturally delighted to see our longstanding partner back as the JWRC's control tyre supplier."
"With Kris and Brice, who are both very experienced, and a trio of youngsters aged between 24 and 26, our aim is to do better than last year when we came 1st and 3rd," concludes Yves Matton. "So we're looking for a top-two finish this time round."
Press release Citroen