Category Archives: WRC

CITROËN AND OGIER TAKE BRONZE IN WALES GB

45th Wales Rally GB (3 – 6 October 2019) – Finish

Wales Rally GB lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar as Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia negotiated the unpredictable Welsh weather and muddy conditions to finish third overall. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the end of the rally, having been forced to rejoin under Rally 2 rules, gathering considerable experience in the process.

With today’s final leg only covering 38.42 kilometres, and held on stages well known to the all the crews, it was asking a lot of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia to make up the deficit to the top two crews. Matters were only made worse when the Great Orme stage (4.74km), where some big gaps appeared last year, was cancelled this year for safety reasons. At that point, the French pair focused on keeping clear of trouble in the many tricky sections, before going for it in the Power Stage. They were second fastest on the final stage, therefore adding four bonus points to those awarded for finishing third overall.

This result is Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season and the French crew’s eighth top-three finish, and ensures they remain in second position in the championship, twenty-eight points behind the leaders.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved into the top three after the rally’s first proper stage, before driving really aggressively in the C3 WRC on Friday afternoon, claiming two stage wins and confirming their intention to try and secure a sixth win at this round. They ended the opening leg just 3.4s off the lead. Determined to pursue their push on Saturday, not only the longest leg of the weekend but also contested without a mid-leg service, the six-time world champions once again pushed as hard as they could in an exciting and closely-fought scrap at the front. Unfortunately, they weren’t quite able to match the pace of the other two championship contenders. They therefore began today’s final leg in third place, 17.3s behind the leaders and 6.3s off second place.

After driving somewhat cautiously on the first proper stage as they got to grips with the handling of the C3 WRC on the greasy Welsh roads, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm immediately upped their pace with a fourth fastest time, 4.0s off the pace on the following stage (Penmachno, 16.19km). A third fastest time, just 1.0s off the leading pace on Aberhirnant (SS5, 10.26km) meant they made it the mid-leg service on day one just 7.8s off the podium. However, they were then caught out by one of the stages’ many changes in grip, overestimating the grip available on a braking point at the start of the second loop. They went no further on the opening leg. Having rejoined the action under Rally 2 rules on Saturday, they focused on improving their knowledge of the subtleties of the event and learning what it is like to start first in the running order on muddy, slippery roads, sometimes flooded with standing water. They nonetheless showed impressive speed at certain points, scoring a third fastest time on the Power Stage, within a second of the stage-winning time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“The Power Stage sums up our weekend in many ways: we have been a couple of tenths back throughout the rally. We tried our best and gave it absolutely everything, but we were just a bit short of performance whilst Ott had a super weekend. It’s not a great result for us in terms of the championship with just two rounds to go, but we’re going to keep fighting tooth and nail for as long as it remains possible mathematically to win the title.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“For sure, it’s a shame to find yourself out of contention on the Friday. But there are some positives because learned a lot here. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of performance we managed to show in the C3 WRC despite having had totally dry conditions for our pre-event test.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your analysis of this slightly disappointing weekend?

Yes, I suppose we have slightly mixed feelings about our weekend. Obviously, there are many things we can be pleased about, not least securing the brand’s eleventh podium in twelve rounds this season. We also showed great reliability with the C3 WRC, especially on Saturday when we had to cover almost half of the total distance with no service period. On the other hand, we had hoped to be more competitive so that Sébastien and Julien could keep moving upwards in the championship standings, especially as they once again showed incredible fight at this rally. It’s an event where they excel, as can be seen in their performance on the Power Stage. Instead of making up ground, however, they have dropped a little further back. Similarly, we were hoping for better for Esapekka and Janne, but they were a little unlucky in drifting marginally off the line at the wrong place. We saw afterwards in the pace they showed that they obviously could have secured a strong result this weekend, but you need quite a bit of experience to read the grip on these muddy gravel roads, something that they are still in the process of gathering. They also learned a lot during the rest of the rally, by being consistent.

How do see the final two rounds?

Obviously, the situation in the championship is more difficult now and we’re going to need a bit of good luck to turn things in our favour. But we’re not about to give up. We now have to work hard to give Sébastien and Julien a car that enables them to fight for victory at these two remaining rounds. Last week, Sébastien spent a day testing on tarmac at our Satory test track. This week, we had another test there and next week, we’ll be holding a four-day test in Spain. We’re going to give it our very best shot, so we have no regrets at the end of the year.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Until the end of the Power Stage, the Citroën Total World Rally Team tried everything to limit the points dropped in the championship, with a team strategy that was close to perfect. 

Despite their misfortune on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm constantly showed their competitiveness on the Welsh roads, whenever they weren’t too hampered by the conditions. This is why the team encouraged them to express their talent on the Power Stage, as part of a team strategy designed to nick as many points as possible from their rivals. The Finnish pair executed their part perfectly, topping the timesheets as many other crews completed, until Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia moved ahead of them by less than five tenths. Neuville tried and failed to dislodge the two Citroën crews, before Tänak finally managed to grab the top time by just over four tenths of a second.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:00:58.0
3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +10.9
4. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.8
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +35.6
6. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +48.6
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.2
8. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +5:23.8
9. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 9:25.0

27. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +35:53.7

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 240 points

Sébastien Ogier – 212 points

1. Thierry Neuville – 199 points
2. Andreas Mikkelsen – 102 points
3. Kris Meeke – 98 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 90 points
5. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 83 points
7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
8. Dani Sordo – 72 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 340 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 332 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 278 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 200 points

* Subject to publication of the official standings by the FIA

CITROËN CLAIMS A ONE-TWO FINISH AND MOVES BACK INTO THE TITLE HUNT !

Brilliantly reliable and competitive, the C3 WRCs of Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi Janne Ferm claimed a magnificent one-two finish at Rally Turkey, enabling the French crew to move back into serious contention in the race for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world titles.

The tactics were fairly straightforward for the Citroën Total World Rally Team on today’s remaining 38.62 kilometres. Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s job was to maintain a decent pace so as to secure second place and avoid the risk of being caught out. Meanwhile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia needed to confirm their pace notes on Marmaris (7.05km), the day’s opening speed test that would also be used as the Power Stage. They then had to look after their tyres on the next two stages so they could push as much as possible on the final test in the hope of collecting a few bonus points. Citroën’s crews stuck to the plan, securing the one-two finish, whilst Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia scored three extra points with the third fastest time on the Power Stage.

This one-two finish is the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s first such result since the 2015 Rally Argentina and is the team’s third win this season, following victories in Monte-Carlo and Mexico. It also sees them take their ninth and tenth podiums of the year. It equally signals the team’s return to the front with an impressively fast and robust C3 WRC this weekend and illustrates its determination to fight all the way in the championship. The result is certainly excellent news for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who move back up to second in the standings, just seventeen points behind the leaders, with some ninety points left up for grabs in the three remaining rounds of the season.

Third on the road on Friday, Sébastien and Julien got off to a frustrating start with a puncture six kilometres from the end of the first proper stage. However, they moved back up to third place on the next stage and ended the day in second overall, 17.7s behind their team-mates, setting two consecutive third fastest times in the process. A bold tyre choice for Saturday morning’s opening stage in the very hot conditions (three medium and two hard Michelin tyres) enabled them to claim their first stage win of the weekend on Yesilbelde (33km). Their rivals were left at least a minute behind. They then focused on taking as few risks as possible and controlling their pace. They nonetheless grabbed the second fastest time on the repeat of Yesilbelde, which took them into the overall lead. This morning, they were therefore well placed to bring home their third win in the C3 WRC and also secure their seventh podium in 2019.

Making the most of their position down the running order (ninth) on day one, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm impressed on SS2 with a second fastest time. They then took the overall lead on the following test with their first stage win! Clearly at home in the C3 WRC, Citroën’s Finns were as calm and focused as they were impressive, despite their road position being a disadvantage on certain very rough sections of Friday’s afternoon loop and having a tyre package ill-suited to the rain that began to fall late in the day. They even added two stage wins to their tally and led the rally until a brief stall on SS12 saw them relinquish the lead to their team-mates. A minor mishap that didn’t prevent them from heading into today’s final leg in a strong position to claim their third podium of the season, after also finishing as runners-up in Sweden and Finland.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“We really needed this win if we were to have a chance of getting back into contention in the championship so I’m really happy to bring it home for the team this weekend. We knew that anything could happen at a rally like this where it is really rough but we managed to keep out of trouble by adopting a smart approach. It’s a good morale boost for everyone as we move into the end of the season! We all know that we have to keep working really hard. We’ll savour this win and then get down to work again tomorrow.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“It was a very demanding event, one which I didn’t really enjoy last year so I’m obviously pleased with my performance this weekend. We managed to have two very good first legs, displaying the same kind of pace as Seb and Julien, which is no easy feat. Today, the challenge for us was to get the car over the line and help them as much as possible. Our C3 WRC was perfect this weekend. We had no issues whatsoever and that was one of the keys to us securing this great result.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What can you say about the team’s one-two finish this weekend?

I’m incredibly proud of what we have all managed to achieve this weekend! It’s certainly going to do us a whole lot of good. After the disappointment in Germany, I think the team proved that it had recovered. We were united and have shown real strength of character to manage to bounce back like that this weekend. We came away from four days of testing in Greece feeling optimistic about our chances and we had confirmation this weekend that we were right to feel positive. Everyone worked really hard to provide our crews with a C3 WRC that was both extremely robust and very quick on these rough gravel roads, which are some of the most demanding all season. The crews rounded off the job with a great deal of talent. They both produced an authoritative, dominant performance this weekend, claiming five stage wins in total. Rest assured, we’ll be driven by the same determination and fighting spirit right until the final stage of Rally Australia.

How would you describe the performances of your crews?

Perfect! Esapekka and Janne made the most of their road position on Friday morning, before proving to be extremely solid when the conditions were no longer particularly kind. They led the rally for nine stages, finding the right balance between pushing and controlling. They then clearly understood that the team needed them to not risk ruining what was shaping up to be a great result. I would like to pay tribute to their superb team spirit. They have clearly made another step forward in the C3 WRC on gravel and will now be a definite asset in our attempt to win the world title with Sébastien and Julien. Speaking of whom, Messrs Ogier and Ingrassia managed perfectly to deal with their position in the running order on Friday, ending the day ideally placed. They then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable on Saturday morning, showing their unrivalled ability when it comes to tyre management. The sign of a true champion is knowing when is the right time to strike. Over the years, they have also become known for never giving up and they certainly reminded everyone of that this weekend!

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Yesilbelde (33km), Saturday’s opening stage and one of the slowest and most technical of the weekend with average speeds of just over 75kph, saw the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews establish their future one-two finish with authority

This very rough stage was clearly the big challenge of Saturday’s leg. Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, having already been at the sharp end in the C3 WRCs the day before on the very long Çetibeli stage (38.15km) disregarded the length of the test and the stifling heat to produce impressive performances. The French crew recorded a genuinely breathtaking time thanks to a bold tyre choice, whilst the Finns finished 16.7s behind to make it a one-two on the stage. Further back, only Andreas Mikkelsen came close to the Citroën crews, whilst the rest of the field was at least a second per kilometre off the pace, a huge gap at this level. This performance also left the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s closest rivals a minute adrift, enabling the team to approach the afternoon loop, expected to be very demanding, in a more relaxed mood.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

  1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:50:12.1
  2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +34.7
  3. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:04.5
  4. Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:35.1
  5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:25.9
  6. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:59.1
  7. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +3:53.3
  8. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +5:34.8
  9. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +7:22.9

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Ott Tänak – 210 points
  2. Sébastien Ogier – 193 points
  3. Thierry Neuville – 180 points
  4. Andreas Mikkelsen – 94 points
  5. Kris Meeke – 86 points
  6. Jari-Matti Latvala – 84 points
  7. Teemu Suninen – 83 points
  8. Esapekka Lappi – 80 points
  9. Elfyn Evans – 78 points
  10. Dani Sordo – 72 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Hyundai WRT – 314 points
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 295 points
  3. Citroën Total WRT – 259 points
  4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 184 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

CITROËN ALREADY FOCUSED ON TURKEY

Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm ended Rallye Deutschland a disappointing seventh and eighth overall, as both crews struggled throughout the event to deliver their full potential in the C3 WRC, the French pair also collecting two harsh punctures. A tough weekend that the Citroën Total World Rally Team nevertheless leaves in determined mood, aiming to bounce back at the next round in Turkey (12-15 September).

With their chances of a podium place dealt a serious blow by the two punctures picked up by Ogier – Ingrassia yesterday on Panzerplatte, the Citroën Total World Rally Team concentrated today on improving the handling of the C3 WRC. The work done highlighted a few ideas on how to change the set-up, whilst also underlining the need to go further still. Today’s final leg concluded with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in seventh place, whilst Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were just behind in eight overall, after briefly fighting back up to sixth position. This result means the French crew, who also scored a bonus point in claiming fifth place on the Power Stage, now lie third in the provisional world championship standings.

Although they very quickly noted that the set-up wasn’t quite right and the C3 WRC was understeering, meaning they had to push really hard to compensate, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia ended the opening leg in third place. This despite making a few minor mistakes, unsurprisingly so given they were having to drive on – or over – the limit to keep in touch with the leaders. With day two including stages in the Baumholder military base, where they have delivered some formidable performances in the past, they had high hopes of being able to consolidate their position. Unfortunately, they fell foul of the very unpredictable nature of the Panzerplatte stage. They lost a little time with a slow puncture on the first run but worse was to come on the repeat, with a second puncture costing them more than 1m 30s. Their poor luck dropped them out of contention for the leading positions, leaving them to use the final leg as a test.

Less experienced on this demanding event, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were nevertheless just 7.3s off fourth place halfway through the first leg. However, they too made a mistake, a spin on SS5, as they struggled to push despite the set-up of the car not being entirely to their liking. They ended day one in seventh position. Whilst setting two second fastest times (SS9 and SS11) on Saturday, reflecting the progress made on the set-up of the C3 WRC, they were unable to avoid another minor error, but they dug in to make their contribution to the efforts undertaken by the team.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Obviously, it was not the weekend we were hoping for, but I gave it everything. I was flat out a lot of the time, but it wasn’t enough. The times just weren’t there and the punctures certainly didn’t help. We had hoped to buck the trend here, but unfortunately, our situation in the championship hasn’t improved. I’m still going to keep fighting, like I have always done.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“It was a very difficult weekend for us. We had difficulty finding confidence in the car and the speed to fight with the leading crews. We managed to make some small steps during the weekend but it wasn’t enough. We need more. I have faith in our ability to find the right solutions together for the future.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your analysis of your disappointing performance this weekend?

We thought we had understood the reasons for our below-par performance in Corsica and had made the necessary changes for this tarmac round. We had hoped to be among the frontrunners this weekend, but the truth is that wasn’t really the case. We were closer to the leaders this weekend than in Corsica, but still too far away to be satisfied. We clearly missed something in our preparations. The only full day of testing conducted by Sébastien and Julien was disrupted by rain, something we didn’t have during the rally in the end. So that prevented us from completing our test programme on dry tarmac. We were also unlucky with the two punctures picked up by Sébastien and Julien in the Baumholder military base, when they were definitely still in contention for a podium place. In any event, our crews tried really hard all week, always looking to get the absolute maximum from the car, regardless of the circumstances. That is also why, as they tried to compensate for the handling issues, they ended up making a few minor mistakes. The technical team never let up either, despite the obvious disappointment, and it is this fighting spirit – combined with the lessons learned here – that will enable us to come away stronger from this test.

How do you see the rest of the championship developing?

We are obviously in a more difficult situation in the championship now. But we’re not the kind of people to give up whilst there is still hope. There are four rallies still to go, including some of the  most difficult events in the championship, so a lot can still happen. We have a pre-event test for Turkey coming up next week and we’ll be fighting right to the end of the season with togetherness, commitment and passion.

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

  1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:15:29.8
  2. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +20.8
  3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +36.0
  4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +58.5
  5. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:16.6
  6. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:46.2
  7. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:56.3
  8. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2:02.2
  9. Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta WRC) +6:22.2

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Ott Tänak – 205 points
  2. Thierry Neuville – 172 points
  3. Sébastien Ogier – 165 points
  4. Kris Meeke – 80 points
  5. Andreas Mikkelsen – 79 points
  6. Elfyn Evans – 78 points
  7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 74 points
  8. Teemu Suninen – 70 points
  9. Esapekka Lappi – 62 points
  10. Dani Sordo – 62 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

  1. Hyundai WRT – 289 points
  2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 281 points
  3. Citroën Total WRT – 216 points
  4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 168 points

*subject to the publication of the official classification by the FIA

CITROËN’S FLYING FINNS GRAB SECOND PLACE!

Runners-up at their home round after a high quality performance in their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm consolidated their pedigree as “Flying Finns”, the local crews who each year add another page to the history of this legendary event! Their performance, Citroën Total World Rally Team’s eighth podium of the season, was supplemented by a fine fifth place for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia who, in spite of the French driver having suffered physically yesterday, were determined to hang in there and claim precious points for the championship.

With the final leg starting with the stage on which they went off last year, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm knew that a tough job lay ahead of them today. Their off in 2018 also meant that they had no experience of driving the second stage of the loop at full speed. Totally in control of proceedings throughout the weekend in the C3 WRC, the Finns nonetheless had to show great steel today. After limiting the time lost on the first runs, whilst also confirming their pace notes, they then moved clear of the third-placed crew on the second pass. They went on to equal their best result so far with the Red Army (runners-up in Sweden) and secured a richly deserved podium at their home round, just rewards for their undeniable improvement!

This second podium of the season for the Lappi-Ferm crew, the sixth of their short WRC career, is also the eighth in nine rounds this season for the Citroën Total World Rally Team.

Esapekka and Janne showed their intentions right from the word go, setting the second fastest time – just a tenth down on the lead time – on the first proper stage (19.34km). They then confirmed their promising start as they made it to the end of the opening leg in third position, just 2.4s off the pace. Full of confidence in the C3 WRC on these roads that leave no room for hesitation, they went even better on Saturday’s leg. Two more stage wins (SS16 & SS18) amidst the four-way battle for the lead took them up to second place, with handy lead of 12.4s over the third-placed crew. An advantage that they managed masterfully on today’s short final leg, like a couple of seasoned campaigners!

Second on the road on Friday and therefore obliged to sweep the fine layer of loose gravel off the roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia managed to limit the time lost, ending day in seventh position, just 12.9s off the podium. Unfortunately, Sébastien then suffered a disrupted night’s sleep after falling ill and was forced to reset his sights for Saturday’s leg. He nonetheless showed great persistence and determination to fight against the exhaustion he felt and move up to fifth overall, within striking distance of fourth place. Having enjoyed a better night’s sleep, he went back on the offensive on Sunday with the same tenacity, but missed out on fourth place by just 2.7s. The points scored at this rally, including two bonus points earned in the Power Stage thanks to setting the fourth fastest time, mean he still lies second in the drivers’ championship and in contention for a seventh consecutive world title.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“It was a tough weekend for us. To be honest, I had higher expectations at the start. As always, I gave it absolutely everything. For sure, Saturday’s leg – when I was really low on energy – didn’t help matters, but even today, when I felt better, unfortunately I wasn’t able to do more.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“I’m very pleased for the team – they deserve this result for having been patient and supportive during the first part of the season, when things were difficult. We worked really hard – and well – together so that the C3 WRC suited my driving style more effectively, especially on the front diffs and I really felt full of confidence driving the car this weekend. I literally felt like I could do what I liked in it! From the first run in the shakedown, I knew that things were looking good. I now hope to keep up this level of performance for the rest of the season.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What can you say about Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s performance this weekend?

Obviously, we are delighted to see them back near the top after an up-and-down first half of the season, when they struggled to turn their undeniable potential into results.We knew that they were extremely fast and we never doubted their ability to get back to where they belong. They just needed a bit of time to adjust to the car and get the most out of it. We have also tried to support them in managing this situation as best we could, and the relaxed attitude we’ve seen in them this weekend makes me think that the hard work done is beginning to pay dividends. It’s richly deserved for the commitment and trust they have placed in the team, day in, day out. But it’s also satisfying for everyone in the team, who continue to work relentlessly, without counting the hours… I have high hopes that they can keep up the momentum at the next few rounds.

Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, Sébastien and Julien leave Finland with precious points in the battle for the drivers’ and co-drivers’ title…

Yes, even though they were definitely hoping for a better outcome, and so were we. But they didn’t have an easy job in second position in the running order here, where there is a lot of loose gravel on the roads. And the very disrupted night between Friday and Saturday really knocked the stuffing out of Sébastien, just when he intended to try and make up lost ground. Despite all of this, they once again showed their legendary grit and tenacity, limiting the damage and remaining in with a very good chance of winning the championship. Sometimes, championships are won by making it to the end of difficult weekends like this one without suffering too much damage. In any case, we’ll be redoubling our efforts to ensure our crews have an even more competitive C3 WRC at the forthcoming rounds.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Christophe Witschi, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s race engineer, witnessed first-hand the race craft and assurance with which the Finns built their podium finish, particularly on Sunday morning when they put paid to Jari-Matti Latvala’s hopes of snatching second. He recalls the experience…

“Esapekka was very relaxed this morning and very clear about how he intended to manage his 12.4s lead today. He clearly said that on the first run on the first stage, he was going to ease off slightly on the corner where he went off last year, in order to avoid making the same mistake and that’s obviously what he did. The second stage of the loop was changed a bit last year so his off in 2018 was quite a disadvantage, as he had not driven it at full racing speed. Latvala, on the other hand, has driven this stage many times before, given that it has been used previously as the shakedown stage. But once again, Esapekka and Janne managed to deal with this handicap perfectly, before reminding their fellow countryman that he wasn’t going to catch them on the repeat of Laukaa! It was undoubtedly at least as impressive as their performance on Saturday afternoon when they moved ahead of Latvala.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2h30’40’’3

2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +25’’6

3. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +33’’2

4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +53’’4

5. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +56’’1

6. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1’32’’4

7. Breen / Nagle (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1’38’’2

8. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2’33’’8

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 180 points

2. Sébastien Ogier – 158 points

3. Thierry Neuville – 155 points

4. Elfyn Evans – 78 points

5. Andreas Mikkelsen – 71 points

6. Teemu Suninen – 66 points

7. Kris Meeke – 60 points

8. Esapekka Lappi – 58 points

9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 56 points

10. Dani Sordo – 50 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 262 points

2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 236 points

3. Citroën Total WRT – 198 points

4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 158 points

CITROËN FIGHTS TO SECURE PRECIOUS POINTS WITH THE C3 WRC IN SARDINIA

Although Citroën Total World Rally Team’s chances of a good overall result were compromised on day one, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia confirmed once again that they remain fierce competitors on the Power Stage, grabbing the second fastest time and four bonus points. Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made it to the finish in seventh overall, having managed the last two legs admirably.

After making a mistake on day one (SS5) as they attempted to minimise the major disadvantage of running first on Sardinia’s technical and very loose gravel roads, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia – having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Saturday’s leg – were solely focused on attempting to grab a few bonus points on the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage during today’s short final leg (41.90km). Once again showing their incredible fighting spirit, the French six-time world champions claimed four points, which means they now lie second in the world championship standings, four points behind the new leader.

Whilst it falls short of Citroën Total World Rally Team’s hopes for this round, the result means that when the championship resumes after the summer break, they will tackle roads in Finland (1-4 August) that have already been cleaned by a competitor. The forthcoming break will undoubtedly be used by the Red Army to redouble its efforts in preparation for the second half of the season.

On gravel, the first leg tends to be decisive because it determines the running order for the rest of the rally, and Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm unfortunately experienced this first hand. They were running in sixth overall and were gradually getting their bearings when they dropped almost 40s when one of their tyres came loose (SS4). They put in a lot of hard work in the C3 WRC to move back up the leaderboard (stage win on SS5, second on SS9, just 0.1s off the pace), but were unable to finish the opening leg any higher than eighth, after also suffering a sensor issue (SS6). In spite of a less than ideal position in the running order on Saturday, they managed to produce a consistent, error-free performance on day two, as they continued to get to grips with the C3 WRC on gravel and regained seventh position when one of the other crews suffered a puncture. They ended the final leg in the same place. This race, which they managed intelligently once they were no longer able to fully express themselves, will undoubtedly help them to begin the next event, their home round in Finland, in the best possible shape.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Sometimes in motorsport, you have a weekend where  things just don’t go your way and this weekend was clearly one of those. We’ll put it behind us and focus on the future. In running first on the road, the best we could have realistically hoped for would have been to finish around fifth, so my mistakes cost us a few points. But it is still incredibly close in the championship, even though I’m not the kind of person to take any pleasure from the misfortune of others, especially when it’s Ott. I’m now going to have a holiday and recharge my batteries. We’ll be back in Finland and try to do a lot better.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Obviously, it wasn’t quite the result that we were hoping for. The problems we had on the first leg went a long way to determining the rest of our weekend. We weren’t able to perform at our true level given our position in the running order. It was pretty much impossible to make up ground on these roads, where the grip increases so much with each passing car. We also weren’t helped by making the wrong call on tyres on Saturday morning. But at least we made it to the finish. We’ll now get back to work so that we’re in better form for our home round in Finland.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL


What is your analysis of this weekend’s race in Sardinia?

Obviously, this isn’t the result we were hoping for, although we knew that running first on the road here, where the roads clean so much, Sébastien and Julien were bound to have their work cut out. We certainly can’t blame them for their mistakes, because such errors are so highly uncharacteristic. And they did a great job on the Power Stage, showing their incredible fighting spirit once again. Esapekka and Janne had a slightly disappointing first half of day one and unfortunately, this had a knock-on effect on the rest of their weekend, forcing them to carve out the racing line for the rest of the field. In Sardinia, it’s a disadvantage that is almost impossible to overcome. However, they managed to cope intelligently with the frustration involved, getting more miles under their belt in the C3 WRC and making it to the finish. They will now look get their season back on track in Finland, where we know they definitely have the potential to do very well.

With the championship so tight, it looks like the summer break may be more work than play…

Yes, Sébastien and Julien’s never say die attitude, combined with the dramatic end to the rally, means that the championship remains wide open. It doesn’t change the way in which we approach our WRC campaign at all, however. We are going to continue to deploy all our forces in the battle! We’re testing next week and one thing’s for sure, we will be redoubling our efforts to try and provide our drivers with the best weapons possible for the second half of the season.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Described by many observers as being more suited to a cross-country rally given the roughness of the road, the Sassari – Argentiera Power Stage (6.89km) once again saw Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produce another majestic performance, despite being the first WRC crew to contest the stage.

Sébastien Ogier had predicted that the Power Stage would be very tough, given the extent to which the rough, gravel roads clean and provide more grip to those further down the running order. On these sorts of sandy roads, where ruts can form quickly, the ability to take risks could make all the difference. Sébastien and Julien produced an extremely committed performance, clearly shown in the utter concentration displayed on their faces in the on-board camera footage. Their driving, usually so clean and tidy, was extraordinarily aggressive, but their approach paid dividends at the finish! Only Andreas Mikkelsen, who started five places further down the running order, managed to go faster by just over two seconds. These hard-fought four points may yet prove decisive at the end of the season…

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1- Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3h32’27’’2
2- Suninen / Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +13’’7
3- Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32’’6
4- Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +33’’5
5- Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1’30’’1
6- Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2’06’’7
7- Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) + 2’59’’6
8- Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +4’40’’1
42- Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h22’58’’5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Ott Tänak – 150 points
2- Sébastien Ogier – 146 points
3- Thierry Neuville – 143 points
4- Elfyn Evans – 78 points
5- Teemu Suninen – 62 points
6- Kris Meeke – 60 points
7- Andreas Mikkelsen – 56 points
8- Dani Sordo – 52 points
9- Esapekka Lappi – 40 points
10- Jari-Matti Latvala – 40 points
*Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1- Hyundai WRT – 242 points
2- Toyota Gazoo Racing – 198 points
3- Citroën Total WRT – 170 points
4- M-Sport Ford WRT – 152 points
* Subject to publication of the standings by the FIA

CITROËN POCKET YET ANOTHER PODIUM!

With their chances of pushing for the win compromised by their successive road positions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia nonetheless refused to give up. Their never-say-die attitude was justly rewarded with their sixth podium of the season, the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s seventh top-three finish in as many rounds. Equally deserving of a good result, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately caught out in the closing stages with the finish in sight.

With today’s final leg covering just fifty-two kilometres and held on stages well known to all the crews, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s chances of making up the 11.8s gap to the podium were slim. Citroën Total WRT’s standard bearer focused on the Power Stage, and the bonus points available, whilst remaining ready to pounce if a rival crew should make a mistake under pressure. And that is exactly what happened on the final stage, enabling the French crew to move up to third position. They therefore secured their sixth podium of the season – and Citroën Total WRT’s seventh – after yet another very intelligently crafted performance. With the five extra points earned for winning the Power Stage, Sébastien and Julien continue to lead the world championship.

Leaders coming into the Portugal round, and therefore forced to run first on the road, the six-time world champions feared they would suffer here, given the very loose, dry conditions seen in recce. They managed nonetheless to produce a heroic performance on day one, reaching the end of day service in fifth place, just 3s off the podium, having in particular successfully gambled on tyre choice. However, the difference in road position compared to the other podium contenders was so significant on Saturday that it prevented Sébastien and Julien from fighting in even conditions. They therefore began today’s final leg 11.8s behind the third-placed crew.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm, who were just 2.3s off fourth place after SS2, had also made a good start to the rally. Unfortunately, one of their tyres came loose on landing a jump (SS3) and the pair found themselves down in eighth overall by the end of day one. They then produced an impressive performance on Saturday’s leg to climb to fifth overall, including three fourth fastest times, despite having spent two thirds of the day running in a very tough second position on the road. Unfortunately, a minor error at the start of Sunday’s leg (SS16) proved to be extremely costly. The pair turned slightly too sharply into a right-hand hairpin and ended up spinning and then rolling their C3 WRC. As they attempted to defend their fifth place on the next stage, they clipped a bank, damaged the rear left-hand suspension and had to retire within sight of the finish.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “I didn’t think we could score twenty points this weekend. Although we never had a chance of winning the rally with our position in the running order, we gave it absolutely everything, regardless of the situation. So, to that extent, this result is just rewards. In truth, I was hoping not to be first on the road in Sardinia, but every point counts at the end of the season. I’m pleased to see that we were competitive on the Power Stage, which was more or less the only stage of the weekend where we had the same grip conditions as our rivals. That means we have also progressed in terms of performance although it was difficult to show it, given the circumstances.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “After our roll, the car wasn’t too badly damaged, it was just missing the rear spoiler. I thought I had a good rhythm on the following stage but I was slightly too optimistic on a right hander over a crest and I hit a bank, which caused a puncture and then damaged the suspension. There were too many kilometres left to cover with our makeshift repairs. I’m really very sorry for the whole team, who deserved better.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed superb race management this weekend…

Yes, absolutely! Given, their road position on day one, but also throughout the weekend, they clearly did a great job on these roads, where cleaning is such a major factor. Despite not being able to fight on even terms, they managed to maintain the pressure and remain ready to seize any opportunities that came their way. Their determination and resilience were rewarded with another podium finish and a handsome tally of points for the championship. They had a good feeling in the C3 WRC, which also confirms that we have made significant progress with the car and are moving in the right direction. We’re going to keep working even harder because we’ll have to deal with the disadvantage of cleaning the road again in Sardinia.

Despite their retirement today, there some promising signs in the performance of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm…

We’re obviously disappointed they didn’t make it to the end of the rally after two mistakes, especially after such a fine day yesterday. After very good pre-event testing, during which we identified the differential set-up that suits them the best, they were really on their way towards putting together a decent performance, so I hope they can build on this in Sardinia. We are now going to work together and support them so that they can manage this kind of situation better in the future.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Thomas Breton, race engineer to Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, looks back on the crew’s incredible performance during the first leg, which they ended in a somewhat unexpected fifth place…

“Given the extent to which we expected the road to clean this weekend, we had focused on maximising the balance of the car in low-grip conditions during pre-event testing. Apart from on Friday’s opening stage, where they were probably getting a feel for the loose conditions, Seb and Julien were genuinely incredible. It is also worth mentioning that on the first stage, Seb had accidentally switched to road mode and by the time he realised this, he had probably lost a couple of seconds. The afternoon loop went particularly well, since they were only two tenths per kilometre off the stage-winning times. Tyre choice undoubtedly also played a role in their performance. Due to running first on the road, and also the fact that Seb is a driver who really looks after his tyres, we opted for a different strategy to the other drivers in the afternoon. We kept two Michelin mediums, despite the high temperatures, where all the other crews went with five hard tyres. Having the right strategy is one thing, of course, but you still have to deliver! And that’s precisely what he did. The data shows that Seb just doesn’t overdo it when there’s no need and his approach paid dividends in the times.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1 -Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3h20’22’’8
2 -Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +15’’9 
3 -Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +57’’1
4 -Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +2’41’’5
5 -Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) + 7’08’’3
6 -Rovanperä / Haltunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 10’34’’2
7 -Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 11’28’’2
8 -Kopecky / Dresler (Skoda Fabia R5) + 11’41’’9

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 -Sébastien Ogier – 142 points
2 -Thierry Neuville – 132 points
3 -Elfyn Evans – 65 points
4 -Kris Meeke – 56 points
5 -Teemu Suninen – 44 points
6 -Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
7 -Jari-Matti Latvala – 38 points
8 -Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
9 -Esapekka Lappi – 34 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 -Hyundai WRT – 202 points
2 -Toyota Gazoo Racing – 182 points
3 -Citroën Total WRT – 158 points
4 -M-Sport Ford WRT – 122 points

THE C3 WRC SECURES ITS SIXTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH AS RUNNERS-UP!

Once again among the leaders on their debut outing in Chile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued their impressive series of podiums to finish as runners-up after an incredibly intense battle in their C3 WRC, following the improvements made to the car by Citroën Total World Rally Team since Argentina. This result sees them reclaim the championship lead. Increasingly comfortable as the rally progressed, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended sixth overall, completing a fine all-round performance by the team.

With more narrow and fast stages to experience for the first time at full pace, today’s final leg was not short on difficulties, but it was made even more taxing by the fine drizzle that had fallen overnight, leaving roads significantly damp. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the third-placed crew trim their advantage to just 1.1s on the opening stage. The six-time world champions then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable. They pushed throughout the full 18.06 kilometres of Lircay, the rally’s narrowest stage, to claim their second stage win of the weekend, 4.2s ahead of their rival for second place. The French crew then managed the gap to the end, finishing second overall and thus securing their fifth podium in six rounds, following wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico, second place in Corsica and third in Argentina.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also collected four bonus points in the Power Stage, meaning they head back to Europe from Chile with a ten-point lead in the championship standings. This sixth podium finish in as many rounds this season, combined with the sixth position of Lappi-Ferm, also means the Citroën Total World Rally Team stays within touch of second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

On stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately settled into second position on day one. And although the morning of day two proved more difficult, they were able – in conjunction with the team – to respond perfectly in the afternoon loop, grabbing a stage win and a third fastest time on their way to doubling their advantage over the third-placed crew. Unfortunately, they were hampered by the late arrival of fog and rain on the final stage of the day, allowing their rivals back into the mix ahead of the short final leg.

After a cautious, focused start to the race, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had closed to within 10.3s of fifth place with the third fastest time on yesterday’s final stage. They confirmed their growing confidence and improved form today, grabbing a fifth and a fourth fastest time. Their splits on the Power Stage were also very promising until a minor error dashed their hopes of any bonus points. They nonetheless finished sixth overall. They can take heart from an encouraging result, one which they will hope to build on, so they can start the next round in Portugal in the better shape.

Engaged in a close fight for the WRC2 Pro class win until a minor brake issue cost them time on Saturday morning’s loop, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen had to settle for second place in the end. The Norwegians nonetheless claimed twelve stage wins out a total of sixteen, demonstrating the competitiveness of the C3 R5 once again.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “This podium further confirms our very good start to the season. We have been very consistent and the points are good for the championship. It wasn’t an easy weekend, however, even though things moved in the right direction after Saturday’s mid-leg service. We got the best out of the C3 WRC once again. We now need to develop the car even more so that we can be more competitive in low-grip situations.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “We had a difficult start, but we managed to make progress bit by bit. We also managed to improve the set-up of the C3 WRC with the team and our pace started to be pretty decent today. I really hope that we can keep going forward like this in our forthcoming tests. In any case, it ended up being a positive weekend in terms of my confidence.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your assessment of this sixth round?
Clearly, it was a positive weekend, with the fine second place secured by Sébastien and Julien. They produced another attacking performance, on these totally new stages, which needed quite a bit of getting used to. Their perseverance was rewarded with a good result that sees them back at the top of the standings. The other cause for satisfaction is the feeling that Esapekka and Janne have found again. They put together a smart, mature performance to finish the race, after gradually building their pace. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the year, especially as we now start a run of events that they know better. I think we also showed that we were able to react and introduce a few minor upgrades, which worked, in the fairly narrow window available between Argentina and Chile. Having said that, we are fully aware that these changes are not enough as yet to fight with the fastest crews in all conditions, and we are going to step up our efforts in order to keep improving.

What did you think of this first edition of Rally Chile in the WRC?
I think the event has been a successful addition to the championship! Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast, undulating but also highly varied. We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and at the finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

In finishing 4.2s ahead and all but securing second place on Sunday morning on Lircay (SS14), the narrowest stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their ability to take incredibly precise pace notes, as well as their talent for striking at just the right moment. The number 1 C3 WRC driver explained…
“Obviously, with Julien, we give our all on every stage, that goes without saying. Although we’re not always able to compete with the fastest crews on technical stages and in low-grip conditions, I knew that SS14 and SS15 were the kind of stages that suited us best. They were fast – in fact, the average speeds were above 100kph for the first time this weekend – and we know that the C3 WRC performs well in conditions like this so we couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity! Especially as we had just dropped four seconds on the opening stage of the day. We had to hit back and that’s exactly what we did.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:15:53.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.1
3. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +30.2
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:36.7
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:15.6
6. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:45.4
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:39.0
8. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 7:33.4
9. Rovanperä / Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 7:52.5
10.Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +8:16.1

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Sébastien Ogier – 122 points
2. Ott Tänak – 112 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
4. Kris Meeke – 59 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 55 points
6. Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
7. Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 34 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 32 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 30 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 178 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 149 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 143 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 100 points

A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM FOR THE C3 WRC AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH THIRD IN ARGENTINA!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another heroic performance to claim their fourth podium of the season and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s fifth in 2019, after a nail-biting finish on the final stage!

After a ten-second penalty was handed to their direct rivals for the final podium place by the rally organisers late last night for failing to follow the racing route on one of Saturday’s stages, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went into today’s final leg in third position. They held a slim 6.0s lead as they prepared to tackle the very rough stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare. Displaying their famous neversay-die attitude, the six-time world champions put up a determined fight in the C3 WRC, whilst not forgetting the importance of ensuring they secured big points for the championship. Their efforts were rewarded in the end: victory on the Power Stage, their third stage win of the weekend, saw them hang onto the final podium spot by just 1.4s!

Sébastien and Julien’s third position, combined with the five bonus points earned on the Power Stage, means they consolidated their hold on second place in the world championship, ten points behind the leaders. This is their fourth podium this year, after winning in Monte-Carlo and Mexico, and finishing as runners-up in Corsica. It is also the fifth time in as many events this season that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished in the top three.

Despite the difficult, changeable grip conditions, particularly on the opening day after the heavy rain that fell prior to the event, the French crew made an excellent start, consistently among the frontrunners to end the leg second overall, just 11.9s behind the leaders. Day two proved to be trickier. Confused about which route to take on the morning loop (SS11) by a gate left open – whereas the roadbook indicated it was meant to be closed – Sébastien and Julien hesitated and ended up damaging the power steering of their C3 WRC when they hit the gate. They therefore dropped back to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium. They then fought back like the champions they are on the second loop, claiming two stage wins on their way to fourth overall, keeping them in with a good chance of finishing on the podium going into the final day.

After making a decent start with a fifth fastest time on the rally’s first proper stage (SS2), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately then held up by a puncture immediately afterwards (SS4) when they hit a bank following a crest. The Finnish pair were gradually upping their pace on what was only their second appearance in Argentina – as could be seen in their promising split times – when a tyre came loose following a puncture, rolling the car (SS8) and forcing them to retire from the rally on the opening leg.

Competing in the WRC2 Pro class in a C3 R5, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed their second consecutive category win after Rally Sweden, whilst also amassing a handsome tally of ten stage wins from the overall total of seventeen contested. Yet further evidence of the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product on the very demanding Argentinian roads, where the C3 R5 was competing for the first time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “It’s a pretty good result in terms of points, but we can’t be pleased with our out-and-out performance level. There are some conditions, like those we saw in Mexico or here on the second runs, where we are fairly competitive. But we have to improve when there is less grip or when the road is more technical. I’m pleased to see our persistence rewarded, because once again this weekend we pushed as hard as possible right to the end.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “Despite not knowing the roads here particularly well, I was obviously hoping for a better outcome from this round. But after we had picked up a puncture, I was caught out when the tyre suddenly came loose. Thiscaused the car to understeer, we hit a bank at the side of the road and rolled the car. Obviously, I’m sorry for the team, but after a few days’ rest with my family, Janne and I will back raring to go and have the best Rally Chile possible, where we’ll all be on an equal footing in terms of experience.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How do you assess your performance in Argentina?

It was clearly a tough weekend, one that we can’t be satisfied with. The points for third place and from the Power Stage are fairly positive as regards the championship, but we lacked pace on these roads. The result is down in large part to Sébastien and Julien’s relentless commitment and persistence. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne deserved at least to make it to the end of the rally, in order to keep adding to their experience. Perhaps in future they will need to manage a puncture differently, but we are still 200% behind them so that they can finally get back on the right track in Chile.

How are you intending to tackle the transition to Rally Chile?

First of all, we’ll be shipping the backup C3 WRC out to Chile for Esapekka and Janne, so that they will have a completely new car for the event. Although we have relatively little time, we are also going to get to work on improving the C3 WRC as much as possible in clearly identified conditions, and define the best set-up for the rally. It’s a new event for everyone, and will also be fairly different to what we experienced this weekend. In any case, we are all fired up to keep fighting as hard as possible for the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Jean-Luc Gaucher, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Chief mechanic, was the man in charge of coordinating Saturday’s mid-leg service, during which the Citroën mechanics repaired the stricken number 1 C3 WRC. He told us about how they took just forty minutes to repair the car’s power steering, broken by the French crew in a minor impact.

“Actually, we had a whole load of parts to replace. The entire power steering, of course, but also the gearbox, the hydraulic unit and the clutch. Generally speaking, these sorts of repairs need careful planning beforehand, so that everyone knows precisely what order to do things in and so that everything goes smoothly once you get started. Given that we only had one car left in the race at that point, we could have all eight of our mechanics involved, but on the other hand, we were limited by the physical space to four people working on the front on the car, in the critical area. Although we train for this kind of situation, it’s always satisfying to see things work out when it’s for real. It was important to get the car working again as quickly as possible, because when you work on the hydraulics, the start-up procedure takes quite a bit of time, but that’s precisely what we managed to do. After a long, difficult service like this, there’s always a niggling fear that you might have missed something, so it was nice – and reassuring – for all of us to see Sébastien and Julien grab two consecutive stage wins straight afterwards!”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:20:54.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:04.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.7
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:57.3
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14:24.8
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +14:28.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 100 points
3. Ott Tänak – 82 points 4. Kris Meeke – 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 30 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 28 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
9. Dani Sordo – 26 points
10. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 157 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 120 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 117 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 78 points

A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM FOR THE C3 WRC AS OGIER-INGRASSIA FINISH AS RUNNERS-UP IN CORSICA!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s stubborn, never-say-die attitude helped them secure their third podium of season in Corsica and the fourth top-three finish in as many races this year for Citroën Total World Rally Team. Their hard-earned second place took them to within two points of the top of the drivers’ world championship.Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm finished seventh overall, both helping to consolidate Citroën’s second place in the manufacturers’ standings and racking up important miles in the C3 WRC at an all-asphalt event.

Beginning the day with just a 5.1s lead over their closest challengers, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately secured third place by extending their advantage to almost thirty seconds by the end of SS13, the first and longest stage (31.85km) of the day. On the Power Stage, contested in the idyllic setting of Fango valley, with the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean forming a magnificent backdrop, the French crew once again showcased their fighting spirit to grab the fifth fastest time and collect a bonus point, whilst an unexpected final-stage incident resulted in them being promoted to second position. They therefore closed to within just two points of the world championship leader, meaning they won’t be opening the road at the next round of the WRC, in Argentina (25-28 April). 

Having struggled with some set-up issues on the opening leg, and unable to make proper corrections due to there being no mid-leg service, the six-time world champions made the best of the situation by ending the day sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place. They then produced a heroic effort the next day on both runs on the brand new Castagniccia stage. They used all of their attacking instincts on the dirty, worn roads and their ability to have good pace notes for the first pass at full speed, managing to grab the third fastest time on the first run and then the second fastest time on the repeat. These two performances in particular enabled them to move onto the podium with just the short final stage to go.

In finishing as runners-up in the C3 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their third podium this year from four races. Citroën Total World Rally Team has now finished on one of the top two steps of the podium in all four events this season, with wins at Monte-Carlo and Mexico (Ogier-Ingrassia), and second places in Sweden (Lappi-Ferm) and Corsica. The Satory team has thus consolidated its second place in the manufacturers’ world championship standings. 

Also struggling with the set-up of their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly found themselves in a situation where their hopes of making up ground were remote. They therefore decided to use the remaining kilometres to run through a range of set-up options on the C3 WRC and add to their experience in the car on tarmac. Their persistence was nonetheless rewarded with a seventh place finish, which also provided a worthwhile contribution to the overall team result.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“In terms of points, it’s a good result, scoring nineteen points at a difficult round. On the other hand, we really suffered in terms of pure performance. We need to understand why, so that we don’t have the same problem again on this surface, on which the C3 WRC had performed well previously. In any case, I’m pleased to have managed to get the most out of the car I had and also that I don’t have to open the road on gravel in Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“We all had high hopes coming into this round, so obviously we can’t be satisfied with this result. We were short on performance and suffered quite a lot of understeer throughout the weekend. We’re going to work hard to put things right for the next rounds on tarmac, in Germany and then in Spain. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to getting back on gravel in Argentina.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How would you assess this Tour de Corse?

In terms of points, it was a good result, as we have consolidated second position in the standings for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. However, obviously, we can’t be satisfied with our performance level this weekend. We were missing something, somewhere, throughout the weekend. We’ll now analyse everything in detail so that we get to the bottom of this drop in form and ensure we return to the level of competitiveness we had previously on tarmac at the rounds in Germany and Spain. I would nonetheless like to pay tribute to the reaction of my team in this difficult situation. They never let up, working hard to try and find every possible solution for our crews. We improved during the weekend and it’s by maintaining this attitude that we’ll keep making progress and coming back even stronger. 

How would you describe the performance of your crews?

The sign of a true champion is managing to produce performances even when some of the ingredients you need to be competitive are missing. Securing a result like this at a difficult weekend is how you win championships and Sébastien and Julien know this all too well. Once again, they showed their remarkable ability and never-say-die attitude. This podium is above all down to them. They really nailed it with their performances on Castagniccia, whilst remaining incredibly consistent on the other stages. Esapekka and Janne have nothing to be ashamed of either, but for the time being they just lack experience in this kind of situation. I’m convinced, however, that as soon as we give them a good car, they will start producing the kind of speed that we know that they are capable of. 

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Former WRC driver and safety crew driver for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Simon Jean-Joseph looked back at the French crew’s performances on the two runs on the Castagniccia stage during Saturday’s leg.

“For us, as safety crew, the two runs on Castagniccia were really the only two tests this weekend where we had quite a lot of corrections to make. Apart from their obvious talent, combined with the fighting spirit and determination of Seb and Julien, I think one of their real strengths comes from their incredibly precise system of pace notes. In dirty and tricky conditions like these, they have very subtle variations in describing the road, which gives them a sense of security and enables them to show off their full potential. For the safety crews, it’s then a question of having a good feeling for things, adding corrections in the right place without overloading the notes. But it’s then a real feat for Julien to manage to convey all the subtle differences, given the speed at which they run through the stages, and for Seb to manage to take it all in.” 

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3h22’59’’0
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +40’’3
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1’06’’6
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1’18’’4
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1’24’’6
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1’40’’0
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2’09’’1
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3’39’’2
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5’06’’3
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6’44’’6

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Thierry Neuville – 82 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 80 points
3. Ott Tänak – 77 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
5. Kris Meeke – 42 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points
8. Dani Sordo – 16 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 15 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 14 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 114 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 102 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 98 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 70 points

C3 WRC SETS SAIL FOR CORSICA

62nd Tour de Corse (28-31 March) – Preview

The first rally to be contested on clean tarmac this season, round four of the 2019 WRC is also Citroën Total World Rally Team’s home event. Hopes are therefore high for the French outfit’s crews, Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, especially as the major changes made to the route may well suit them.

Having won last year’s rally after leading from start to finish, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia spearhead the challenge of the Citroën Total World Rally Team on the Mediterranean island this season with the firm intention of claiming a third win in four races, following victories in Monte-Carlo and Mexico. The French crew, who also won the 2016 Tour de Corse on a route that had already undergone substantial changes, have shown in the past their ability to take good pace notes on the two runs allowed in recce, before then really going for it on the increasingly wide roads used on the island rally. Sunday’s leg in Monte-Carlo, contested on dry tarmac, equally confirmed that they were full of confidence when driving the C3 WRC on this surface.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also stood out at the 2017 Tour de Corse, finishing as top performers with four stage wins (one tied), including the Power Stage, as the battle among the championship contenders for bonus points raged around them. They were even in contention for third place before a puncture put paid to their challenge on the penultimate stage. So the young Finnish driver comes into this round with genuine hopes of a strong result on a surface where he feels particularly at home, having competed in karting races between the ages of six and sixteen.

Long-time leader in 2017 and winner of three stages during last year’s rally, the C3 WRC has always been very competitive at this round, where its celebrated predecessors (Xsara Kit-Car, Xsara WRC and C4 WRC) have won the event a total of six times in the past. The new Citroën crews each had two days of testing in the car on the Corsican roads last week to review and fine-tune the set-up options.

REACTIONS FROM…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal

“Obviously, the French round of the WRC is a special event for us and in front of our home crowd, we’re determined to finish on the podium for the fourth time in as many races. Nevertheless, we know just how unforgiving these roads can be, especially as this year’s itinerary focuses on endurance. And at this time of year, the weather can also be fairly unpredictable. In any case, Sébastien and Esapekka have both shown undeniable speed on these types of road, as has the C3 WRC, and preparations in Corsica last week mean that we come into the rally in good shape.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“The route has been changed quite a lot again this year, but that has already happened before here, which has meant that I have often had to get to grips with new stages and that tends to suit me. It adds a bit of stress and adrenaline to the race, and it can lead to there being bigger gaps than usual. When the stages are new for everyone, obviously the difference comes from who does a very good job during recce and then has sufficient confidence in their pace notes to push right from the word go. We also know about the qualities of the C3 WRC on tarmac. Our pre-event testing was really productive and the feeling was good in the car. Clearly, I’m also very keen to do well at our home round of the WRC and keep our good run of form going.”

Number of appearances at the event: 5
Number of wins: 2 (2016 and 2018)


Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“I have always really enjoyed this rally and I can’t wait to get started. I love driving on clean tarmac like here or in Catalonia. The challenge will be to take good pace notes from the word go. I think pace notes are even more important on asphalt than on gravel in order to get the line right and to know what speed you can carry through corners. With the revised itinerary, we’ll all be in the same boat as regards familiarity with the stages. Although it won’t be easy, it’s an opportunity for us, since we generally have a bit less knowledge of the roads on the other rallies. In any case, our tests went well and I feel confident. I hope I can be at least as competitive as last year.”

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 6th (2018)

KEY FIGURES

14 timed stages covering a total of 347.51 km
133.34 :the number of kilometres this year where crews will need to take new pace notes
47.18 km for Castigniccia, the weekend’s longest stage, held twice on Saturday’s leg
6 overall wins secured by Citroën at the Tour de Corse in the WRC: 1 with Xsara Kit-Car (1999), 3 with Xsara WRC (2001, 2005 and 2006), 2 with C4 WRC (2007 and 2008)
2: for the second year running, Citroën France is the lead official partner of the Tour de Corse.

TOUR DE CORSE SCHEDULE
(GMT+1 until 30/03, GMT+2 from 31/03)

With the opening leg taking the crews from Porto-Vecchio to Propriano, then heading north on day two towards Castagniccia, Cap Corse and the Désert des Agriates, before finishing next to Calvi, this year’s edition of the classic island rally remains faithful to the recently-restored tradition of touring the whole of Corsica.

In addition to the various regions covered, the 2019 Tour de Corse has plenty of other ingredients to make it a serious test. The total competitive distance is now close to 350km (compared with 333.48km in 2018), Friday’s leg only has a tyre-fitting zone at the midway point, Saturday features some 174.50km with two runs on the 47.18km-long and especially demanding Castagniccia stage, all rounded off with a longer Power Stage (19.34km) than usual, set against the magnificent backdrop of the Fango valley.

The other major difficulty stems from the fact that more than 62% of the itinerary has been revamped. Of the fourteen stages, only three – Valinco (SS2/SS5, 25.94km), last contested in 2015 , Cap Corse (SS7/SS10, 25.62km) and Désert des Agriates (SS8/SS11,14.45km), both contested last year –  are familiar to the current crop of world championship crews. This makes it all the more important for them to get to grips with and take good paces notes on the 133.34 new kilometres in just two passes during recce at a limited maximum speed (80kph). Recce looks set to be every more crucial than usual and will call for unremitting concentration throughout.

THURSDAY 28 MARCH

9.00am: Shakedown (Sorbo Ocagnano)

FRIDAY 29 MARCH

7.00am: Start Day 1 (Porto-Vecchio)
7.05am: Tyre fitting zone (Porto-Vecchio – 15 mins)
8.29am: SS 1 – Bavella 1 (17,60 km)
9.24am: SS 2 – Valinco 1 (25,94 km)
10.32am: SS 3 – Alta-Rocca 1 (17,37 km)
12.41pm: Tyre fitting zone (Porto-Vecchio – 15 mins)
2.05pm: SS 4 – Bavella 2 (17,60 km)
3.00pm: SS 5 – Valinco 2 (25,94 km)
4.08pm: SS 6 – Alta-Rocca 2 (17,37 km)
7.38pm: Flexi service A (Bastia airport– 45 mins)

SATURDAY 30 MARCH

6.05am: Start Day 2 & service B (Bastia airport – 15 mins)
7.38am: SS 7 – Cap Corse 1 (25,62 km)
9.08am: SS 8 – Désert des Agriates 1 (14,45 km)
10.14am: SS 9 – Castagniccia 1 (47,18 km)
12.32pm: Service C (Bastia airport – 40 mins)
2.38pm: SS 10 – Cap Corse 2 (25,62 km)
4.08pm: SS 11 – Désert des Agriates 2 (14,45 km)
5.14pm: SS 12 – Castagniccia 2 (47,18 km)
6.34pm: Flexi service D (Bastia airport – 45 mins)
8.24pm: Parc ferme (Place Saint Nicolas – Bastia)

SUNDAY 31 MARCH

7.30am: Parc ferme out (Place Saint Nicolas – Bastia)
8.10am: Service E (Bastia airport – 15 mins)
9.45am: SS 13 – Eaux de Zilia (31,85 km)
12.18pm: SS 14 – Calvi Power Stage (19,34 km)
1.18pm: Finish (Citadelle de Calvi)
3.00pm: Podium (Citadelle de Calvi)