After adding a record fifth win at Wales GB last year (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018), bettering the four victories of Hannu Mikkola and Petter Solberg, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia clearly have a special relationship with this rally. It was here, of course, that the pair made their debut in a WRC at the end of 2008 in a C4, having secured the Junior World Championship title in the C2 Super 1600. Even back then, they made their mark in winning the opening stage and leading the race until SS5. They will undoubtedly be aiming to show the same energy and verve in the C3 WRC at this year’s event. For once, running second on the road is unlikely to be a major disadvantage: grip levels tend to go down on the muddy Welsh forest tracks as more cars come through the stages. The six-time world champions are therefore determined to make the most of their position to close the gap to the current championship leaders.
At a round where many of their fellow countrymen have enjoyed great success, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm wasted no time in demonstrating their liking for the fast Welsh forest roads, winning the WRC2 class on their first appearance here in 2016. The Finns went even better last season, finishing third overall and claiming two stage wins as they proved their ability at this round. It is therefore hardly surprising that they come into this year’s event with genuine hopes of a strong result, especially as they have now reached a high level of confidence in the C3 WRC on gravel, confirmed by their excellent performances in Finland and Turkey. Although their eighth position in the running order may not be ideal if it rains, Esapekka and Janne remain determined to keep up their current good form.
The Citroën Total World Rally Team recently enjoyed a three-day pre-event test in Wales, improving the C3 WRC’s ability to adapt to the local conditions and, as usual, Thursday’s traditional shakedown will provide an opportunity to fine-tune the last few details.
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