Petter Solberg and Kimi Räikkönen in the points

Peter van Merksteijn Jr reached the finish

Sunday 27 March 2011 - 23h17, by Olivier Ferret

Petter Solberg and Chris Patterson, who were the best performers at the end of the Rally of Portugal, led the group of three Citroën DS3 WRCs that were entered by private teams and run with the back-up of Citroën Racing Technologies. They finished sixth, one place ahead of Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström in seventh. On their first appearance of the season, Peter van Merksteijn Jr and Eddy Chevaillier reached the finish.

Petter Solberg was extremely competitive from the very beginning, but lost all chance of winning at the end of the opening day. A double puncture on the front wheels meant that he was forced to retire from the opening day. The former World Champion re-started the following morning at an impressive pace, setting six fastest stage times and earning himself the title of best performer. By the finish he managed to climb back to sixth and score eight points in the World Rally Championship for drivers.

On his second Rally of Portugal, and his first appearance on gravel this year, Kimi Räikkönen drove a consistent rally from start to finish, steering clear of mistakes. He finished in seventh overall.

Peter van Merksteijn Jr made his Citroën DS3 WRC debut in Portugal. On his return to competition, the Dutch driver concentrated on getting to know his new car. Only a small engine problem after crossing a watersplash on the second day prevented him from driving all the stages. After rejoining the action on Sunday, he eventually finished in 22nd place.

Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team): « I’m disappointed not to have been able to fight for victory. After our punctures on Sunday, we needed to attack in order to get sixth place on the very last stage. These are very important points, but I’m aiming for better results. I promise that I’m never giving up though! »

Kimi Räikkönen (Ice1Racing): « Apart from a puncture on Friday afternoon and a bit of time lost in the dust of another competitor yesterday, we had a rally with no problems. We learnt a lot about the Citroën DS3 WRC on our first gravel rally with this new car. As the stages went on, we made progress with the set-up and I think my driving has improved as well throughout the three days. It’s been a valuable less and I hope to pick up my pace on the next rally. »

Peter van Merksteijn Junior (Van Merksteijn Motorsport): « I can draw a very positive conclusion from my first experience with the Citroën DS3 WRC even though I think I was a bit unlucky. We had a small problem on the second day that deprived us of important kilometres as we were learning the car. The objective of this rally was to get to know the car. I’m sure I can go quicker, but that will just come with experience. »

Benoit Nogier (Head of Citroën Racing Technologies): « Petter Solberg once more showed his competitiveness by fighting with the factory cars in his privately-run Citroën DS3 WRC. Again, it was sheer bad luck that prevented him from recording a better result. Here, that was down to the tyres. We hope that this is at least now an end to his bad luck and that he will go on to achieve success on the next events. Kimi Räikkönen drove a consistent rally. He already showed his reliability in Sweden and he continued that pattern here. Having found a better set-up at the end of the first day, he made a lot of progress. That’s very encouraging for the future. Finally, we had a technical problem with Peter van Merksteijn Jr’s car, which cost him valuable kilometres. He showed a very good frame of mind and is already at the level of the other drivers who are learning their cars. We’ll keep making steady progress with him, step by step, as the season goes on.»

Via @NextgenAuto

É exatamente isto que deve ficar, o fato de Kimi já estar conseguindo melhorar durante o rali, quando os problemas acontecem e como isto vai ajudar com as próximas etapas. Consistência, ótima palavra usada pelo Nogier, chefe de equipe do Iceman para descrever sua performance em Portugal. E também me agrada o fato dele estar se sentindo muito mais confortável pilotando o DS3.

Beijinhos, Ludy


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