Rally de Portugal Preview

20th March 2011
Van Merksteijn joins Solberg and Räikkönen For the first time, five Citroën DS3 WRCs will compete in a round of the World Rally Championship. Petter Solberg, Kimi Räikkönen and Peter van Merksteijn Jr are racing under their own colours in Rally Portugal in cars that are identical to those run by the Citroën Total World Rally Team. These have been put at their disposal by Citroën Racing Technologies. For several seasons, Citroën Racing has been developing its activities in the World Rally Championship through Citroën Racing Technologies. This back-up programme for privateers at the top level is continuing in 2011 with the Citroën DS3 WRC. “The changes in the regulations have forced all the drivers to enter the latest generation WRCs,” says Benoit Nogier, the Citroën Racing Technologies director. “Citroën Racing has decided to provide Citroën DS3 WRCs for privateers. These cars have the same specification as the works cars and comply with the same homologation sheet.” Petter Solberg and Kimi Räikkönen began their season in the World Rally Championship in Sweden. The Norwegian finished fifth (with three fastest times) and the Finn scored the points that went with eighth place. In Mexico, Solberg just missed out on a podium finish (five fastest times) after leading the rally in the early stages. In the third round of the championship in Portugal, Petter Solberg, Kimi Räikkönen and Peter van Merksteijn Jr all have very different aims in their Citroën DS3 WRCs. Petter Solberg (Petter Solberg World Rally Team): “I always enjoy rallying in Portugal. The event is both quick and very technical and suits me good. We learned a lot about the car on gravel in Mexico, and also learned a lot during our test day here in Portugal. As usual, I want to finish on the podium, and I know we have the speed to do so. Crossing my fingers for a problem free rally.” Kimi Räikkönen (Ice 1 Racing): “We made a good start to the championship in the Swedish Rally. We were closer to the leaders than last year. But we’re still learning. Since then we’ve taken part in a test day to get to grips with the car on gravel. It feels good and I can’t wait to be at the start of the Portuguese Rally.” Peter van Merksteijn Junior (Van Merksteijn Motorsport): “I was able to get used to the car in a two-day test. We ran through a wide range of setups. The DS3 WRC is a bit like a kart as it reacts immediately to the slightest input from the driver. The car really made a big impression on me as did the team, which is very professional. I’m really looking forward to tackling my first rally of the season