Having secured a podium on their very first outing in a WRC – finishing third in a C4 in 2010 – followed up with a win a year later whilst still competing for Citroën and then two other outright victories, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have always performed very strongly at this rally, where their ability to read the road has proven invaluable. One of only two rounds exclusively contested on a sealed surface along with the Tour de Corse, it nonetheless provides a completely different challenge to the French event and is one where Citroën has often shown their credentials (12 wins, 11 of which in the WRC). It is therefore no surprise that the six-time world champions come into this event with the firm intention of pursuing their progress in the championship.
Having claimed a stage win on their first outing in Germany in a WRC in 2017, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm went even better last year, grabbing another stage win on their way to a fine third place overall. As things stand, their 2018 performance remains their only podium finish on tarmac in the WRC. And yet, this round is one of their favourites, due to the constant changes in grip and road surface. Boosted by their strong recent performance in Finland, where they finished as runners-up, Esapekka and Janne will be focusing on consistency as they seek to pick up where they left off in Scandinavia. Their seventh position in the running order may however prove to be a disadvantage, especially if there is rain, as slippery mud tends to get dragged onto the roads as more cars come through the stages.
With four days of dedicated pre-event testing held on stages that are representative of those contested during the event, the Citroën Total World Rally Team enjoyed hard-working and instructive preparations. The team tested on a wide variety of road types and was also fortunate to experience changeable weather conditions, always useful for this kind of event. It also ran through some final checks on the engine upgrade due to be introduced at this round, on which it used an upgrade token.
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