Citroen Expect Tougher Battle with Ford in Norway
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Nevertheless, the reigning world champion delivered in style, while followed by teammate Dani Sordo. One couldn't ask for a better start in the WRC, especially since Abu Dhabi Ford World Rally Team had only one driver in points at the end of the weekend.
“We had been hoping to start the season with a win, if only because the 2009 calendar features just 12 rounds, with only two on asphalt. There will be a high price to pay for any mistake this year,” said Citroen's team principal Olivier Quesnel.
However, Quesnel reckons that the next round of the WRC, Rally Norway, will pose much more problems to the Citroen drivers, especially since the snowy surface awaiting the WRC caravan has always been considered a Nordic drivers' specialty.
“The fact that we are leading both championships after the season's curtain-raiser means we can go into the next event in a more relaxed frame of mind. That said, we won't be favorites because the second round takes place on a terrain that tends to be more suited to the Scandinavian specialists,” added the French official.
On the other hand, Ford admitted – through the voices of European motorsport director Mark Deans and 3rd placed in Rally Ireland Mikko Hirvonen – that the season opener was all about scoring as many points as possible in a less-favored event, while revealing Rally Norway is where it all starts for Ford.
“This rally was all about maximizing manufacturer points in an event which was less likely to favor our drivers. As we look ahead to the next round in Norway, I'm confident we can reverse that situation,” said Deans, while backed by Hirvonen: “Norway next - I can't wait, it's definitely going to be a different story there. Now we start fighting for the title.”
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