Having held the overall lead during eight stages at last year’s rally before ultimately finishing third, the C3 WRC has already shown that it is perfectly at home down under. Now placed in the expert hands of Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, three-time winners of this event (2013, 2014 and 2015), it is expecting to get back among the frontrunners, especially as the car has consistently improved on gravel throughout the season.
It won't however be plain sailing for the Citroën Total World Rally Team’s French crew from third on the road on Friday’s leg. Whilst their starting position means they should have the beginnings of a line to follow – as long as the weather stays dry – the thick layer of loose gravel will certainly not have been entirely swept off the roads by the time they come through the stages. However, the team knows it can rely upon the six-time world champions to show plenty of panache and fighting spirit to try and overcome the disadvantage of their road position.
Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm should enjoy better and more consistent grip from ninth position in the running order on day one, once again provided that the weather remains dry. The Finns are certainly determined to try and make the most of their position to conclude their first season with Citroën with the best possible result, adding to the three runner-up spots they have secured in the C3 WRC (Sweden, Finland and Turkey).
Esapekka and Janne have already shown that they are capable of producing genuine speed on these roads, where you need to be fully committed. They were joint leaders last year with the C3 WRC of Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen after SS2, before issues caused by a watersplash dropped them out of contention for overall victory.
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