As the 2019 World Rally Championship enters the second half of the season, Citroën Total World Rally Team crews Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm prepare to tackle one of the year’s most technically demanding events. The notoriously challenging Rally Sardegna is set against the magnificient backdrop of the clear blue Mediterranean sea.
Having claimed six podium-finishes in the first seven races and secured stage wins at every round contested so far on gravel in the C3 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia truly are the kings of consistency. The French duo will try to make use of their exceptional skill again at this rally, where they have previously won three times (2013, 2014 and 2015).
Despite Citroën’s previous experience in Sardinia, where the team has won five times, it will be difficult to repeat their success this year, given that the crew will be first in the running order on Friday where the grip on the gravel roads improves significantly as more cars complete the stages. However, satisfied by the valuable and effective work done in testing with the team in first-run conditions, the championship leaders will undoubtedly once again strive to make the very best of their situation as they chase a seventh consecutive world title.
Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm have performed brilliantly during each of their previous appearances in Sardinia. In only their second rally in a WRC in 2017, the pair finished as best performers with six stage wins, including the Power Stage, and in 2018, the Finnish duo secured third place overall. It is an event they are getting to know well and Citroën’s Finns will have a good position in the running order, starting ninth, on Friday’s leg. This should therefore allow them to get their bearings from the start, build on the clear breakthrough they made handling the C3 WRC on gravel in Portugal and hopefully secure a strong result here.
The Citroën Total World Rally Team prepared for Portugal and this round, which is one of the most technical of the season, during the two days of testing in Sardinia back in mid-May. Encouraged by the progress seen in the C3 WRC in Portugal, the French team has redoubled its efforts behind the scenes to keep improving on the Italian island.
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “This rally is a real challenge for crews and cars alike. It will be especially tough for Sébastien and Julien, given that they will once again be cleaning the roads for their rivals on day one, an even bigger challenge than in Portugal. Having said that, we know how talented and competitive these guys are. They will certainly be doing their very best to deal with what is a clear disadvantage, especially as the tests we held before Portugal have enabled us to make further improvements to C3 WRC.
Meanwhile, Esapekka has a great chance here given his position in the running order. He’ll need to show consistency throughout the race and manage to keep it together from start to finish. He certainly has the ability and we’re going to do what we can to support him as effectively as possible to achieve something great.”
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver: “Running first on the road in Sardinia means we can more or less write off our chances of winning from the word go. It looks like we won’t be getting any help from the weather either, as there is currently no rain forecast. I’m expecting a tough weekend but as ever, I’ll give it my absolute maximum, regardless of the circumstances, and we’ll see how many points we can secure for the team. The C3 WRC has clearly progressed recently and we had a good run in Portugal. Our performance on day one will once again largely determine our overall result.”