Citroen’s bid for an eighth victory on Rally Deutschland got off to a strong start earlier today when C4 World Rally Cars locked out the top four times at the pre-event shakedown.
The four hour test - a prelude to this weekend's rally - took place on a 5.80km asphalt road near the villages of Mesenich and Grewenich, 16km west of the Service Park in Trier. Conditions were dry and sunny throughout, with the temperature peaking at 23 degrees Celsius.
Citroen works team driver Dani Sordo shared the joint fastest time with privateer entrant Petter Solberg. Sordo, competing alongside new co-driver Diego Vallejo for the first time, completed four passes through the stage, setting his best time of 3m 39.4s on his final run.
“It felt good,” said Sordo. “Of course it’s a big change having Diego alongside me but we’ve tested for three days [in the rally car] and since then we have been driving together in a road car in Spain. It’s not the same as proper competition but this morning everything is okay. The aim for the rally is to try and get a podium. But running sixth on the road isn’t an ideal position to be in because there will be a lot of dirt on the road. If the weather stays dry that will help.”
Solberg, who started a new co-driving partnership with Chris Patterson six weeks ago, matched Sordo’s time on his fourth run. The Norwegian drove the stage five times after hitting a snag on his first pass. “The handbrake didn’t release after a hairpin and we were stationary for about 15 seconds,” he explained. “Luckily it happened today and we were able to fix it. After that we tried a few different settings, confirming what we found at our pre-event test. In the end the car feels absolutely perfect and we matched Sordo’s time. I’m happy with that.”
Seven-time Rally Deutschland winner Sebastien Loeb was the closest to Sordo and Solberg, in a time 1.3sec adrift. “The test has been okay for me, no problems,” he said. The road was fast and narrow, so always difficult, but the feeling was good and the car is perfect for the moment. We made a little change to the suspension but nothing special.”
Citroen Junior Team driver Kimi Raikkonen set the fourth fastest time, 1.9sec slower than Loeb, while Ford team-leader Mikko Hirvonen rounded off the top five as the first Focus RS WRC pilot.
ADAC Rally Deutschland gets underway on Friday 19 August at 0900hrs when crews leave the Service Park bound for the opening Ruwertal / Fell stage. Follow this link to find out how to follow the rally LIVE and FREE here on wrc.com.
Here are the Shakedown times of the leading WRC drivers:
1. SORDO. Citroen C4 WRC. 3:39.4
=1. P. SOLBERG. Citroen C4 WRC. 3:39.4
3. LOEB. Citroen C4 WRC. 3:40.7
4. RAIKKONEN. Citroen C4 WRC. 3:42.6
5. HIRVONEN. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 3:42.7
6. DUVAL. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 3:42.8
7. OGIER. Citroen C4 WRC. 3:43.3
8. LATVALA. Ford Focus RS WRC 09. 3:44.4
9. WILSON. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 3:48.3
10. Al QASSIMI. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 3:51.4
11. BLOCK. Ford Focus RS WRC 08. 3:52.2
Click: wrc.com/Germany Shakedown/News