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THE CITROËN DRIVERS FIND THEIR BEARINGS

WRC A FULL 2014

THE CITROËN DRIVERS FIND THEIR BEARINGS

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Rally Sweden – Day 1
RALLY SWEDEN (5-8/02/2014) – DAY 1

With just over sixty kilometres of timed stages, day one of Rally Sweden was the shortest leg on this year’s calendar.

Each focussing on different goals, the three Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team crews took advantage of the day to acquire experience in their Citroën DS3 WRCs.

Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson ended the day fifth overall, just 22.5 seconds behind the leaders. Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle finished inside the top 10, whilst Khalid Al Qassimi and Chris Patterson held 20th position.

Rally Sweden got underway yesterday evening with a short, televised super special stage. After a night in Karlstad, this morning the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team headed for the Hagfors service park, located 85 kilometres to the north. Today’s leg featured six stages completed without any service period, including four over the border in Norway.

Looking to find the right feeling in the car, Mads Østberg made use of the midday regroup to work on improving the set-up of his Citroën DS3 WRC. In the afternoon, the Norwegian proved to be increasingly competitive before setting the second fastest time on the final stage. He ended the day in fifth overall, within striking distance of the leaders.

Kris Meeke had other aims for this rally. Making his first appearance on snow-covered roads, the Northern Irishman picked up as much experience as possible during the first few tests. Ending the first leg in tenth place overall was just rewards for the hard work he has so far put in.

Handed a penalty for a false start at the beginning of the race, Khalid Al Qassimi made steady progress up through the standings to reach twentieth position on the day’s final test.

Nine stages are scheduled for tomorrow’s second leg. The crews set off from Hagfors at 7am for a day featuring a total of 532 kilometres, with 117kms of timed stages. After SS16, the competitors will drive their cars into parc ferme in Karlstad at 7.40pm.

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

Mads Østberg: “It has been an interesting first leg. The surface was quite slippery this morning with a mix of fresh snow and slush. Our set-up wasn’t ideal this morning, but we managed to make some improvements before the second loop. My driving was also better in the afternoon. When there was a bit of gravel, I felt more confident. We’re moving in the right direction.”

Kris Meeke: “I have to say I really enjoyed myself today. Finnskogen is one of the greatest stages that I have driven on in my career. There has been a bit of snow and the temperatures have dropped since we did recce. I’m not too bothered about where I am in the standings – the times only serve as a benchmark for me. I’m pleased with the car and the conditions are pretty good. We have to keep doing the same thing tomorrow.”

Khalid Al Qassimi: “We were fairly cautious this morning. I felt more comfortable in the quick sections. Chris and I also need to get our bearings in the car. This is the first time we have competed together. We’re still making adjustments to the pace notes. I’m trying to find the right balance in my driving style. As I grow in confidence, I think I can push harder.”

Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Kris stuck to the plan we had drawn up before the rally. He adopted a cautious pace so as to avoid any unpleasant surprises. He has had a good first leg, slowly but surely increasing his pace as the day progressed. Mads needed a little time to find his feet. Driving in tests is one thing, driving competitively is another thing entirely. He lost around ten seconds this morning as he got to grips with the car and the conditions. His second fastest time on the final stage augurs very well for the rest of the rally. I’d expect him to get closer to the leaders.”

HOW THE ACTION UNFOLDED

SS1 – Karlstad Super Special Stage 1 (1.90km) – Fastest time for Andreas Mikkelsen on the Karlstad racecourse. Mads Østberg and Khalid Al Qassimi won their head-to-head battles against Martin Prokop and Michal Solowow. Kris Meeke was beaten by Thierry Neuville.

SS2 – Torsby 1 (7.03km) – The first stage of the day was won by Sébastien Ogier who moved into the overall lead. Mads Østberg finished fifth fastest whilst Kris Meeke enjoyed his first experience of driving on snow with the tenth fastest time. Khalid Al Qassimi made a modest start, finishing 23rd.

SS3 – Kirkener 1 (7.16km) – The crews crossed the border into Norway. Another stage win for Sébastien Ogier. Sixth fastest time for Mads Østberg, just ahead of Kris Meeke in eighth.

SS4 – Kinnskogen 1 (16.82km) – Andreas Mikkelsen grabbed another stage win, beating Henning Solberg. Mads Østberg finished behind his fellow countrymen in seventh. Kris Meeke dropped out of the top 10 after setting the eleventh fastest time.

SS5 – Kirkener 2 (7.16km) – After a regroup, the crews began the second loop. Ott Tanak set the fastest time. Mads Østberg seemed to finding his bearings, finishing 4.5 seconds adrift of the leading time. Kris Meeke set the tenth fastest time. Khalid Al Qassimi improved, finishing 19th on the stage.

SS6 – Kinnskogen 2 (16.82km) – The final test in Norway enabled Andreas Mikkelsen to regain the overall lead. Mads Østberg upped his pace to move into fourth place. Kris Meeke ended the test in twelfth position whilst Khalid Al Qassimi held 18th.

SS7 – Torsby 2 (7.03km) – Increasingly comfortable in his Citroën DS3 WRC, Mads Østberg grabbed the second fastest time, just behind Sébastien Ogier, who retook the lead. Kris Meeke set the fourth fastest time to move back into the top 10 of the overall standings. Khalid Al Qassimi also improved, moving up into 20th position overall.

STANDINGS AFTER DAY 1

1. Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 39:56.5
2. Andreas Mikkelsen / Mikko Markkula (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +5.8
3. Jari-Matti Latvala / Miikka Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +12.2
4. Ott Tanak / Raigo Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +14.8
5. Mads Østberg / Jonas Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +22.5
6. Mikko Hirvonen / Jarmo Lehtinen (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +22.5
7. Thierry Neuville / Nicolas Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +32.0
8. Juho Hänninen / Tomi Tuominen (Hyundai i20 WRC) +42.0
9. Pontus Tidemand / Ola Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +44.6
10. Kris Meeke / Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +46.6
20. Khalid Al Qassimi / Chris Patterson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:54.1

FASTEST TIMES

Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Ogier, 3 – Ott Tanak, 1.

LEADERS

SS1 and SS6: Andreas Mikkelsen

SS2 to SS5 and SS7: Sébastien Ogier

 

 

 

 

Marie-Pierre Rossi
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Photo: Michael Bermel / Germany 
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Categories:   Rally Report Magazine Argentina 14 años

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