Conrad third in Corsica
One year after scoring his best ever World Rally championship result young Zimbabwean, Conrad Rautenbach, proved that he is a force to be reckoned with by taking a brilliant podium position on this weekends Corsican round of the Junior World Rally
After finishing 6th on the previous round, the RAC Rally Catalunya, Rautenbach and his new navigator, David Senior, headed to France keen to build on that solid result. The pair struggled a bit on the 4 Friday stages, as Conrad adapted to a new style of pacenotes, and ended the day down in 9th position.
However, with the pair settled into their new routine they began their attack on Saturday morning. 7th quickest on the first stage, followed by a blistering 4th fastest time on SS6 was good enough to elevate Rautenbach up the leader board. Stages 7 and 8 were repeats of the morning loop, and with some fine tuning in service the pair attacked again. They went 9 seconds quicker than their first run through Plage du Liamone, giving them the 3rd fastest time. This, coupled with some notable retirements such as the demise of Kris Meeke, had elevated the Clio into a potential 3rd overall!
Despite a minor ‘off' in stage 8 Conrad ended the day 3rd overall, with 4 stages still to go.
A slow start to Day 3 saw Conrad's cushion cut down as Julien Pressac mounted a serious challenge. Despite some sterling times from Pressac over the final 4 stages, Rautenbach soaked up the pressure and brought his Clio home unscathed to take his first podium in the JWRC.
This sterling result means Conrad now lies a mere 6 points adrift of championship leader Urmo Aava!
Speaking after the rally Conrad was obviously pleased with the result, and attributed it to a combination of factors. “After Spain, David (Senior, his navigator) suggested some changes to our pacenote system which we put into practice this weekend. After some initial adjusting I settled in well and we were really able to push. The stages really suited the car, and I am very happy with the result.”
Conrad will now return to the U.K. to begin preparing for his British Rally Championship debut, which begins with the Pirelli International rally in May. Conrad will use the non championship Manx National Rally, on the Isle of Man in early May, as an extended test.
His next JWRC outing will be the Rally Sardinia at the end of May. This means that he has a very busy month ahead of him, especially as he is also planning to contest his home round of the African Rally Championship, the Zimbabwe Challenge Rally, during the month of May as well!