The WRC season’s traditional opening round, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also one of the toughest challenges for the crews. It is a winter event and the conditions are unpredictable. Citroen now has Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janni Ferm in the C3 WRCs. It will be able to count on the six-time world champions and rallying’s most promising crew to do the team proud.
Citroen Racing’s technical team has done everything to help its new crews rack up as many miles as possible
The aim is to start the season with confidence. Both crews had three and a half days of specific testing with the C3 WRC. They generally covered more than two hundred kilometres per day. This way the team ran through a wide range of set-up options available. The pre-event tests were held on slippery, dry and wet tarmac, snow and ice. In other words, all of the difficulties that Monte is capable of throwing at you in a single stage!
As the defending champion and winner in Monte Carlo for the last five years, Ogier represents the team’s greatest hopes of success
The local hero has proven time and time again his ability to adapt to conditions. He has become an expert at reading the local roads and their countless variations in grip.
“I had a wide variety of conditions during my three and a half days of testing, which was pretty good and enabled us to work on achieving the best possible compromise. The feeling was good. But it’s always difficult to estimate your level of performance for the first race in a new car. I’m going to do what I’ve always done and trust my feeling. This is especially true because Monte is a rally that you are more likely to win by driving intelligently, rather than on the limit, given how many places there are where you can get caught out. In any case, I’ve always done well here and I hope that my experience will help me again!”, Ogier commented.
With three appearances at this round, Esapekka Lappi does not possess the same experience as his French team-mate
He will build on his impressive performances in 2018, during which he scored three podiums. The 28-years-old Finn is determined to keep improving in what will be only his second full season in the WRC.
“I’m pleased with our tests since we were able to try out everything, apart from completely dry tarmac. With the team, we found a set-up that suits me and I felt comfortable in the car. Having said all that, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is still a huge challenge. It’s an event you have to treat with great respect. Especially as it’s never really the same rally from one year to the next, given the way the conditions are constantly changing. I hope to have amassed enough experience in the past to be able to fight near the front. A top-five finish would be a good start to the season for me”, Lappi explained.
Team Principal Pierre Budar pointed out that Ogier and Ingrassia recognized some familiar faces in the team
“This wasn’t the case for Esapekka and Janne, and yet they have settled in quickly and smoothly. We used the off-season to prepare for 2019 in a composed manner, to learn from one another and enable the crews to get as used to the car as possible. At Monte-Carlo, it’s absolutely essential to feel confident in the car. As Sébastien and Julien are five-time winners of the rally, and finished first here last year, they will obviously be a force to be reckoned with. Esapekka and Janne are less experienced on these unusual stages and will undoubtedly be adopting a more gradual approach”, Budar added.
Citroen Racing Technical Director Olivier Maroselli explained that the C3 WRC has undergone some considerable changes since the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo
“[That is] in terms of the dampers and the design of the suspension, and we now have a good understanding of the basic set-up”, Maroselli continued.
“We worked on getting a car that was easier to drive, and which is therefore capable of adapting to the varied levels of grip that tend to be thrown up by this event. We had pretty much every condition going during testing: dry tarmac, snow and good quality ice, melting snow and slush. This meant we could analyse a wide variety of settings, such as cross-fitted tyres, which involves paying very careful attention to the set-up in order to ensure the car’s handling remains predictable. We also worked on set-up options that might be adjusted by the crews between stages on a loop, so I think we are well prepared for the rally.”
It’s race week! Fasten your seatbelt & make sure to be ready to jump on board #C3WRC with @SebOgier & @EsapekkaLappi for the opening round of the @OfficialWRC at @rallyemontecarl ?? pic.twitter.com/VdIBRROZmd
— Citroën Racing (@CitroenRacing) January 22, 2019