Mikko Hirvonen and the DS3 WRC win in the Vosges
"I have never driven on tarmac in conditions like that"
Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen have won the 27th running of the Rally Vosgien.
This full-scale test session proved to be a very useful learning experience for the crews, given the extreme conditions with which they had to contend. However, it also saw more than one great performance in a Citroën, as Sébastien Chardonnet/Thibault de la Haye finished in third place overall in their first competitive outing in the DS3 WRC.
Packed into a day and half’s racing, the Rallye Vosgien began on Friday evening with two night stages. And whilst the day had seen hot and sunny weather, the crews were greeted by appalling conditions as they lined up at the start.
“I have never driven on tarmac in conditions like that”, commented Mikko at the finish of ‘La Vologne’. “It was raining so hard that we couldn’t see the road. There were enormous puddles of water forming, ideal for aquaplaning. We also had to contend with dense fog and seriously reduced visibility. And in addition to all this, as the rally is very technically demanding, we really had to be very careful not to make a mistake.”
Despite all of this, the no.1 Citroën DS3 WRC took what would be the first of many stage wins. At the end of the day one, the car topped the overall standings with a one and a half second lead over its closest challengers.
Day two featured three loops of three stages, interspersed with two service periods. Mikko and Jarmo gradually extended their lead in winning seven of the day’s nine stages while the young Cannes driver Sébastien Chardonnet moved into third position overall. The Finns finished the rally in style, winning the final stage to claim overall victory by some 22.2 seconds, ahead of Norwegian Mats Ostberg.
“We are really pleased with our weekend in the Vosges!”, enthused Mikko at the end of the race. “It’s true that we were thrown straight in at the deep end with the terrible weather we had on Friday’s stages, but we completed the three stages of this rally in very different situations, which helped us to acquire some good experience of the road surface. Basically, we have achieved our goals. Now it’s just a question of applying what we have learned here when it comes to the Rallye de France-Alsace in Strasbourg in a couple of weeks’ time.”
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