With four of the remaining six rallies on the WRC calendar being pure tarmac events, everyone is piling on the asphalt testing to try and catch the seemingly unstoppable Sebastien Loeb. While Ford head out to Serbia, the Citroen Junior team and their driving pair of Sébastien Ogier and Kimi Raikkonen are heading south to the Rally della Lanterna in Italy this weekend.
Ogier is inexperienced as a whole – despite most of the Peugeot 207 Cup being run on asphaly based rallies (a championship he won in his debut year of entering rallying) he has very little experience of driving on sealed surfaces, having only contested two WRC events on asphalt driving the C4 WRC – in Ireland, where he finished 6th, and the Rally Catalunya, where he managed a 5th place finish.
“With the end of the season heavily biased towards asphalt, this rally will allow us to get back up to speed with the C4 on this surface,” said Ogier. “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.”
Despite Raikkonen’s circuit racing background, this event marks only his second asphalt rally of his entire career – the first being last year’s Rally della Marca when he drove a Fiat Abart Grande Punto S2000.
“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 [the car] out on asphalt. We’re going to treat this rally as a life-sized test session.”
However the busy testing schedule has meant the drivers have little time to rest, though Ogier doesn’t seem to mind.
“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.”