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'Exceptional' sixth for Ogier
3 August 2009
Citroen Junior Team's Sebastien Ogier only just missed out on taking fifth on the Neste Rally Finland on Sunday, when he ended the event just three tenths of a second behind Matti Rantanen.
Ogier, who has been on a roll since securing the runners-up spot in Greece, moved up into the top-eight on Saturday morning. The Frenchman then proceeded to close in on Rantanen, cutting the gap from around a minute at the start of day two, to just 17.5 seconds going into the final leg.
On Sunday, the 2008 Junior World Rally champion continued to pile on the pressure and cut the deficit to just 4.6 seconds going into the final two stages. He then took another 4 seconds out of the Finn in SS22, and while he was second quickest in the last stage, it wasn't quite enough.
Speaking at the finish though, Ogier wasn't too disappointed, especially given this was only his second outing on the 1000 Lakes - and his first on it in a World Rally Car.
"Missing out on fifth by just 0.3 seconds doesn't really matter if you look at the way that the rally has gone for us generally," Ogier reflected. "I'm very happy with how we drove on the second half of the event. We enjoyed ourselves a lot and built up a lot of confidence, thanks to a perfect car and good pace notes.
"We were able to up the speed as the rally went on and this continues our learning curve well. Now I can't wait to get to Australia!"
Citroen Junior Team boss, Benoit Nogier, meanwhile was full of praise for Ogier's performance over the three-days.
Indeed the youngster set some very good times, including getting a stage win on Saturday in Kavala (SS18) and that is something only two other drivers have managed to achieve in Finland on their debut there with a top-category car, namely Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz in 1988.
"Sébastien has driven an exceptional rally. Very few drivers have been able to set a fastest stage time here on their debut in a top category car," Nogier continued. "He obtained this great result by gradually increasing his pace, to mix it with the frontrunners by the middle of the second day.
"For three rallies now, he has shown his capability to challenge for top results. This is very satisfying, particularly after what is well known as the most difficult event of the season.
"Now we are going to concentrate on Rally Australia, where we will run two cars for Conrad Rautenbach and Sébastien Ogier. Until then, we have a lot of work to do to prepare our C4 WRCs for their next challenge."
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