The Citroën Junior Team will take the start of the Rally della Lanterna in Italy in order to prepare for the second half of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship season, which takes place largely on asphalt. The team will run two Citroën C4 WRCs for its regular line-up of Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström.
Of the 50 or so rallies that Sébastien Ogier has contested since the start of his career, only around 20 of them have been on asphalt. His experience of the surface at the wheel of the Citroën C4 WRC amounts to just two events during the 2009 season: Ireland, where he was sixth, and Spain, where he finished fifth. In order to continue learning this surface, the recent Rally de Portugal winner will take the start of the Rally della Lanterna: a round of the Italian asphalt trophy. He said: “With the end of the season heavily biased towards asphalt, this rally will allow us to get back up to speed with the Citroën C4 WRC on this surface. Taking part in a real rally will allow us to experience competitive conditions, which will help us be ready for Bulgaria and the rest of the season in Germany, France and Spain.”
Sébastien Ogier, who is now second in the World Rally Championship for drivers, is delighted by this latest opportunity. “With three rallies in three weeks, everything is a bit hectic for me at the moment! It’s great; as for a young driver every start is a chance to gain more experience.”
Kimi Räikkönen has never yet driven his Citroën C4 WRC on asphalt. His only experience of this surface goes back to Italy’s Rally della Marca in 2009, at the wheel of a Super 2000 car. “I’m really happy to get this opportunity to drive in Italy,” he said. “I’ve still got many fans there and I’m sure that there will be a really nice atmosphere. Since the very start of the season, I’ve always been really keen to try out the Citroën C4 WRC on asphalt. We’re going to treat this rally as a life-sized test session.”
Benoit Nogier, the Citroën Junior Team manager, said: “The priority for the Citroën Junior Team is to give our drivers the best possible preparation. Just like we did at the start of the year, when we entered a Citroën C4 WRC on the Arctic Rally to give Kimi the chance to drive the car on snow, the Rally della Lanterna will be an opportunity for our drivers to get to grips with the car on asphalt before the second half of the world championship season.”
Alongside the Citroën Junior Team drivers, local driver Felice Re - the current leader of the Italian asphalt trophy - will also take part in the Rally della Lanterna driving a Citroën C4 WRC. The Rally della Lanterna takes place close to Genoa. After a spectator superspecial on Friday 11 June, there are eight stages on Saturday – making a total of 123.93 competitive kilometres.
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