Following the summer break, the World Rally Championship returns to action for round nine of the season at Rally Finland, one of the highlights of the campaign. Ultra-fast stages on roller-coaster roads provide a unique challenge and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s crews Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm, both former winners of the prestigious event, will be determined to continue their run of podium finishes.
Runners-up last year, with a total of five stage wins, the C3 WRC was the only car able to disrupt the domination of the local team. Having already secured seven podiums this season, including two wins (Monte-Carlo and Mexico), the C3 WRC will be taking on this iconic championship event hoping to match last year’s performance.
Both Ogier / Ingrassia and Lappi / Ferm have already won here, in 2013 and 2017 respectively. Both teams have demonstrated that they are comfortable with the subtle demands of this tricky, high-speed balancing act, where speed, precision and confidence are the vital ingredients to success.
Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are one of the few non-Scandinavian crews to win this event, which has long been dominated by Nordic drivers. Currently second in the championship (just four points behind the leader) and looking for a seventh consecutive world title, they will start the event filled with confidence.
Like Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia in 2008, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm made their debut at this event in a C2 R2 Max three years later. However, the similarities end there between the Citroën Total World Rally Team crews, Lappi and Ferm won this rally on just their fourth outing in a WRC, confirming their rapid rise through the ranks and their undeniable talent. There is no doubt that they will be determined to do well again this year at their home WRC event, driven on by the Finnish spirit Sisu; a unique term adopted by the Finns that represents grit, tenacity and determination, meaning that they can up their game on home turf. The fact that the pair will be running eighth on the road may also prove to be a significant advantage if the weather stays dry.
With Lappi / Ferm competing at Rally Estonia, on similar types of roads, followed by three days of testing in Finland, the French team has given them every chance of performing well here. After successfully reviewing different options in pre-event testing, the team decided to use an upgrade token to make some changes which allows the C3 WRC to feature a wider range of set-up options on its front axle in Finland.
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “With its high speeds and the invariably small gaps between crews, this round is like no other. You really need to come to the start line full of confidence and ready to go for it straight away. There’s no time to get your eye in.”
“We have prepared as best we could by competing at Rally Estonia, and we were able to fine-tune the set-up of C3 WRC during the three-day pre-event test in Finland on roads similar to those we’ll face during the race. We’ll be introducing an upgrade to our front axle at this event, to enable our drivers to have a wider range of set-up options. In any case, with two former winners in our ranks, we are well equipped to challenge and our target will be to continue our run of podiums.”
Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver: “As this rally is contested pretty much in the back yard of one of our main competitors, it’s set to be a serious challenge. I was, however, able to recharge my batteries during the summer break and I feel fresh. As usual, I’m ready to put up a fight. With the high speeds on the stages, this is definitely a rally where you need to be completely at one with your car in order to really go for it and I finished my two days of testing with a good feeling in the C3 WRC. The upgrade introduced at this round means we’ll have better options in terms of set-up for the rest of the season.”
Number of appearances at the event: 11
Number of wins: 1 (2013)
Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver: “After getting our bearings at high speed in Estonia, we were able to fine-tune the basic set-up during the test day held afterwards in Finland. We had increased grip and the handling of the C3 WRC was further improved. This event is obviously something special for all of us. The main thing is to enjoy it, and if I can do that, then the result will come naturally. In any case, I feel confident and I’m determined to do my best.”
Number of appearances at the event: 7
Number of wins: 1 (2017)
RALLY FINLAND KEY FIGURES
23 timed stages covering a total of 307.58km
4 overall wins secured by Citroën at Rally Finland: 1 with C4 WRC (2008) and 3 with DS3 WRC (2011, 2012 and 2016)
122.6kph – the average speed of the winner of the 2018 rally
2nd – the C3 WRC‘s result at last year’s event
RALLY FINLAND SCHEDULE (GMT+3) Neste Rally Finland. Start Date: 01.08.2019. End Date: 04.08.2019.
After more than twenty percent of the route was altered last year, with narrower roads used in certain places, this year the changes are limited. The itinerary is almost identical to the 2018 event.
After a fairly long opening leg (126.55 kilometres) including the Äänekoski stage, where the highest average speeds were seen last year (132.7kph on the second pass), crews will tackle the rally’s longest day on Saturday. They will complete 132.98 kilometres of timed stages, including two runs on Kakaristo (18.70km), the modern version of the iconic Ouninpohja stage, where many of this rally’s historic performances have been recorded. The drivers must tackle a seemingly endless series of jumps, often taken sideways, and a precise racing line is absolutely essential.