Having trailed his team-mates throughout the event, Conrad Rautenbach emerged as the Citroen Junior Team's leading representative in sixth place at the end of the 2009 Rally Cyprus.
A good result for the Zimbabwean driver, who has only ever finished inside the top six on one other occasion, he capitalised on the misfortune of team-mates Sebastien Ogier and Evgeny Novikov, who both crashed out on the final day.
The result was particularly galling for young Ogier, who was heading for a fifth place result when his attempts at resisting a fast approaching Matthew Wilson caused him to crash just 200 metres from the finish line.
Novikov, who had been as high as fifth on only his second ever WRC event, was running a strong seventh at the start of the final day when he too crashed out on SS12 of 14. It meant Rautenbach could claim his first points of the season, much to his delight.
“I am really pleased to get to the end of such a difficult rally, he said. “This sixth place means that we can claim important points for ourselves and for the
Citroen Junior Team. It is a good result.”
Team manager Benoit Nogier, however, admits he is disappointed to have seen a potential top five result go wanting within sight of the finish.
“It is disappointing for us to see only one of our cars at the finish. But the crews all set promising times throughout the weekend. Evgeny set off at a good pace this morning, but he went off the road during the first stage this morning and sadly he was not able to get back on. Sebastien had beaten Matthew Wilson and needed only a few hundred metres more to seal a good result.
“Conrad has been consistent throughout the weekend, allowing the team to score some important points. We are happy to score these points, which follow on from all the work we carried out last year. The next rally, in Portugal, should be a little bit easier for our drivers – who are all still learning.”