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THE C3 R5 CLEARED FOR TAKE-OFF

After the narrow, twisty roads of Sardinia, the Citroën C3 R5 is ready to tackle the high-speed challenge of Rally Finland, as it looks to grab the third WRC2 podium of its fledgling career. Citroën Racing will be once again looking to Stéphane Lefebvre – Gabin Moreau, the brand’s works crew, to produce the goods. The pair will be supported for the second event running by Simone Tempestini – Sergiu Itu, the winners of the 2017 Citroën Ultimate Challenge.

Rally Finland is the world rally championship’s equivalent of the Alpe d’Huez at cycling’s Tour de France: the ultimate test and one that every driver dreams of winning one day. Finland is all about speed – with stages in the forests around Jÿvaskylä covered at average speeds of over 130kph – but the rally also has a never-ending series of crests, often tackled sideways, meaning drivers need some serious tightrope walking skills to successfully negotiate the jumps. The crews must therefore be precise when taking pace notes in recce, which is completed at much slower speeds, working out over which crests they will simply skip and how far they will fly on those jumps where the car lifts off, in order to set up properly for the next corner. With four victories (2008, 2011, 2012 and 2016) at this unmissable event on the WRC calendar in the top-flight category, the Citroën Racing team now aims to achieve similar success in the WRC2 to keep illustrating the versatility and competitiveness of its new C3 R5. The charge will be led by Stéphane Lefebvre, who is very determined to go up against the ever-formidable local drivers on what will be his third appearance at the event. Stéphane was in contention for third place in the WRC2 for long periods at his last outing here in 2015. With seven stage wins alongside co-driver Gabin Moreau since making his debut in Corsica in the C3 R5, the 26 year-old Frenchman has already shown that he has forged a strong bond with Citroën’s new flagship model and that he is very much a potential winner in the category. However, the brand will also be represented by Simone Tempestini, winner of the 2017 Citroën Ultimate Challenge, who will be contesting his second race in the C3 R5, after a baptism of fire in Sardinia.

WHAT THEY SAID

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal

“Having already secured five stage wins in the highly competitive WRC2 class on gravel in Portugal and Sardinia, the C3 R5 will be looking to keep demonstrating its potential in Finland on another radically different event. Stéphane will be involved in two of our three days of pre-event testing. This will give him the opportunity to get used to the speeds reached again and to the endless series of jumps that are never easy to contend with.”
Stéphane Lefebvre

“Although my last outing at this iconic rally dates back to 2015, I have good memories of that year, because I was in contention for the WRC2 podium during the race. I feel like I have improved since then and I have also used the break since Sardinia to work on the on-board footage available on WRC +. I’ll also have a fair bit of time in the car during testing before the rally in order to be ready for the start. I have high hopes of being able to pick up where we left off in Sardinia and turn our good form into a strong result.”
Number of appearances at the event: 2
Best result: 45th (2014)

RALLY FINLAND SCHEDULE (GMT+3)
THURSDAY 26 JULY
8.00am: Shakedown Vesala (4,26 km)
6.37pm: Start (Jyväskylä Paviljonki)
7.00pm: SS 1 – Harju 1 (2,31 km)
7.25pm: Parc fermé

FRIDAY 27 JULY
7.15am: Service A (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 min)
8.18am: SS 2 – Moksi 1 (20,04 km)
9.21am: SS 3 – Urria 1 (12,28 km)
10.13am: SS 4 – Ässämäki 1 (12,33 km)
11.36am: SS 5 – Äänekoski 1 (7,71 km)
12.51pm: Service B (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 30 min)
2.24pm: SS 6 – Oittila (19,34 km)
3.27pm: SS 7 – Moksi 2 (20,04 km)
4.30pm: SS 8 – Urria 2 (12,28 km)
5.22pm: SS 9 – Ässämäki 2 (12,33 km)
6.45pm: SS 10 – Äänekoski 2 (7,71 km)
8.00pm: SS 11 – Harju 2 (2,31 km)
8.30pm: Flexi service C (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 45 min)

SATURDAY 28 JULY
6.00am: Service D (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 min)
8.13am: SS 12 – Päijälä 1 (23,92 km)
9.29am: SS 13 – Pihlajakoski 1 (14,90 km)
10.38am: SS 14 – Kakaristo 1 (23,66 km)
12.13pm: SS 15 – Tuohikotanen 1 (8,95 km)
1.31pm: Service E (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 30 min)
2.55pm: SS 16 – Tuohikotanen 2 (8,95 km)
4.08pm: SS 17 – Kakaristo 2 (23,66 km)
5.36pm: SS 18 – Päijälä 2 (23,92 km)
6.54pm: SS 19 – Pihlajakoski 2 (14,90 km)
8.55pm: Flexi service F (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 45 min)

SUNDAY 29 JULY
7.30am: Service G (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 15 min)
8.38am: SS 20 – Laukaa 1 (11,74 km)
9.38am: SS 21 – Ruuhimäki 1 (11,12 km)
11.01am: SS 22 – Laukaa 2 (11,74 km)
1.18pm: SS 23 – Ruuhimäki 2 Power Stage (11,12 km)
2.21pm: Service H (Jyväskylä Paviljonki – 10 min)
4.00pm: Podium

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