Current Junior World Rally Championship points' leader Sebastien Ogier will swap his C2 S1600 for a C2-R2 MAX this weekend on the Neste Oil Rally Finland.
Ogier opted not
to nominate the Jyvaskyla-based event as one of his six J-WRC points scoring rounds at the start of the year, instead going for Mexico, Jordan and Sardinia as well as the asphalt rounds to come in Germany, Spain and France.
However his performances on the opening three rounds in the J-WRC have really turned heads and the rookie currently leads the standings, thanks to two victories and a fifth place.
While he may lose that lead this weekend, as he is only eight points up on Suzuki's Michal Kosciuszko and fellow Citroen runner Shaun Gallagher, both have yet to skip an event, and so in effect, he could end up with a round in hand.
Speaking ahead of the eighth event in the World Rally Championship and the fourth round in the J-WRC, the Equipe de France FFSA-backed man added that he is grateful to get to chance to take in the '1000 Lakes', which has come about thanks to backing from Citroen, Total and BFGoodrich.
"For me Finland is the best but the most difficult rally of the year. I really wanted to do it, and I'm very pleased to get this chance in the Citroen C2-R2 MAX," said the Frenchman, who will now use the outing to learn all about this very specialised event.
"It's a great opportunity for me to get to know a bit about this mythical event and enjoy myself at the wheel of the Citroen C2-R2 MAX. This drive was made possible for me thanks to the support of Citroen, Total and BFGoodrich, so I will be very proud to carry their colours on this event – which for me marks a departure from my usual championship programme."
Citroen customer competition boss Jean-Francois Lienere meanwhile has told his other C2 S1600 drivers' - namely Shaun Gallagher, Aaron Burkart and Martin Prokop - that they need to make the most of Ogier's 'absence'.
"At the halfway point of the season, we are reasonably pleased with the results we have obtained since the start of the year. The drivers need to continue to make progress, and above all they should concentrate on maintaining or improving their championship positions," he added.
"In the absence of Sebastien Ogier, for championship purposes, Shaun Gallagher, Aaron Burkart and Martin Prokop have the chance of getting a good result, so they should concentrate on making the most of this opportunity to score championship points."