The Citroen Junior Team will take on the challenge of its first all-gravel event this weekend as the World Rally Championship heads to Portugal for the fourth round of the year.
The team will again run three C4 WRCs in the event, with Evgeny Novikov and Conrad Rautenbach nominated to score manufacturers' points and young Frenchman Sebastien Ogier in a third car.
South African Rautenbach heads to Portugal on the back of his first points scoring performance of the season in Cyprus, when he came home in sixth place, and he said he was looking for more points to add to his tally this time around.
“After finishing sixth in Cyprus, we want to do even better now,” he said. “A good result will come from putting in some good stage times. I'm going to try to steadily improve my times while making sure I get to the finish, in order to score points in both championships.”
Rautenbach has previous experience in Portugal having taken part in the last WRC event back in 2007, but with that outing having been in a S1600 machine, he admitted it would be totally different this time around.
“To be honest I actually think that we are going to end up re-writing all our pace notes,” he said. “On the bits that we know already from the past, the scenery is going to go by much quicker in the Citroen C4 WRC. But having participated on the rally in the past definitely offers a small gain, just in terms of experience of the roads. Portugal is an event with a lot of history behind it and there's always a fantastic atmosphere.”
For both Novikov and Ogier, the main aim from the weekend will be try and gain more experience of WRC machinery, with rising star Ogier stating he wanted to continue 'making progress' as he adjusts to the C4.
“We've got to keep on working hard,” he said. “I believe we're making progress with every rally. Portugal will be our first 'normal' event. I'm aiming just to get to the finish there without making any mistakes, in order to concentrate completely on my driving.”