A win for Sebastien Ogier and the Citroen C2-R2 MAX
At the end of the 45th Ulster International Rally, Sebastien Ogier and Jack Boyere have won the twowheel drive category in their C2-R2 MAX. Called up recently to replace Simon Jean-Joseph, who is recovering from facial injuries, Sebastien was co-driven by Jack Boyere in the Citroen prepared and maintained by PH-Sport. Thanks also to the qualities of their BFGoodrich tyres, the crew was able to highlight the capabilities of the C2-R2 MAX on the demanding roads of Ireland.
The Ulster Rally, run over two days and counting towards both the British and Irish rally championships, covered a total of 217 competitive kilometres. Based in the town of Armagh in Northern Ireland, there were 16 stages (consisting of eight speed tests run twice). Amongst the many and varied competitors was a healthy contingent of four-wheel drive WRC and Group N cars.
Sebastien Ogier was a fast learner from the start. He rapidly became accustomed to Jack Boyere and soon got to grips with the tricky terrain, enabling him to fully exploit the car's potential. On Friday evening, his pleasure was clear to see. « Everything fell perfectly into place, » he said. « I wasn't at all worried about how long it would take for me to get up to speed with Jack. I knew already that he was a consummate professional, so one stage is all it would take. Afterwards I was able to find the right pace on this very specialised terrain, even though a few of the bumps – which are not obvious at slow speed during the recce – caught me by surprise a bit. The adjustable dampers, whose efficiency certainly impressed the journalists and drivers I took out on Wednesday before the start, allowed us to find a set-up that suited the tricky Irish roads, together with Citroen's engineers and PH-Sport.
Seb and Jack led the two-wheel drive category after the first six special stages and were then able to concentrate on consolidating their pace throughout Saturday, whilst also trying to improve their overall position. « Leg two got underway in dry weather once more, » said the current leader of the Junior World Rally Championship. « On roads that were a little bit dirtier than the ones we had experienced the day before, we maintained our pace in order to be sure of keeping the two-wheel drive lead. When the rain came, we adjusted the set-up. The car reacted perfectly to the changes that we made, working extremely well even when there was a lot of water. I wanted to use this rally to improve my overall experience in a variety of conditions and I certainly got what I wished for ! We can draw many positive conclusions from this event. I had a lot of fun driving the C2-R2 MAX, which demonstrated impeccable reliability. Throughout both days, on all kinds of surfaces, it showed itself to be competitive. It was also very easy to find the right set-up and make the car punch well above its weight.
Our trip to Ireland has been a success from start to finish, » concluded Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Sport's customer competitions programme. « The C2-R2 MAX received a warm welcome from the press, the British and Irish C2-R2 CUP competitors, but also from drivers of other cars who came to try it out. The rally itself went perfectly. Sebastien Ogier was found the right pace straight away on his first asphalt outing in the MAX, and the partnership with Jack Boyere also worked very smoothly. Backed up by the PH-Sport team and BFGoodrich tyres that were equally at home on the wet as on the dry, the crew managed to achieve their objective of finishing first of the two-wheel drive Group A cars. Given the quality in depth of the field they faced, 13th place overall was also an excellent achievement.
Final classification, 45th Ulster International Rally
1. E. Boland/D. Morrissey (Subaru WRC), 1 h 56 min 14,4 s 2. K. Lynch/F. Regan (Subaru WRC), + 28,6 s 3. M. Higgins/R. Kennedy (Subaru WRX), + 2 min 09 s 4. G. Wilks/D. Moynihan (Mitsubishi Evo 9), + 3 min 11,14 s 5. D. McGarrity/J McKee (Subaru WRC), + 3 min 23,6 s …/… 13. S. Ogier/J. Boyere (Citroen C2-R2 MAX), + 9 min 19,2 s