Sebastien Ogier and Kimi Raikkonen secured the first ever 1-2 finish for the Citroen Junior Team after it elected to enter the Rally della Lanterna in preparation for the upcoming asphalt events on the WRC schedule.
The pair became embroiled in a heated battle for victory in the Italian event, with Ogier eventually taking honours by less than six seconds.
With question marks over the weather when the event got underway, Ogier elected to go with hard tyres for the first loop of three stages – held after an earlier Superspecial test – with Raikkonen playing it safe with soft rubber.
Although he overheated his tyres on SS2, Raikkonen held the lead following the opening loop with Ogier having lost 30 seconds as he struggled for grip. Both drivers went for soft tyres on for the second loop of stages, with Raikkonen retaining the lead and Ogier climbing to second – 17 seconds behind.
Raikkonen lost time on the penultimate stage to allow Ogier to close to within 2.4secs of top spot and the Frenchman then went quicker through the final stage to take victory by 5.7 seconds.
“It's always great to win a rally, but above all I'm pleased to have been able to test a variety of different things on the car,” the Rally Portugal winner said. “I feel much better prepared now for the remaining rounds of the World Rally Championship, starting with the Rally Bulgaria that will be new for everyone.”
Raikkonen was also happy with the event despite missing out on victory.
“It was a good experience,” the former F1 title winner insisted. “The car was fun to drive and this day will be very useful to me to get ready for the second part of the season.”