Conrad Rautenbach review

03.08.2008: Conrad Rautenbach review

CONRAD RAUTENBACH Neste Oil Rally Finland

FIA World Rally Championship, round 9/15

 

The event…

Reigning FIA African Rally Champion Conrad Rautenbach became one of the few people ever to claim a top-10 finish on their Rally Finland debut in a Word Rally Car, when the event finished in Jyvaskyla this afternoon.

Rautenbach, together with his British co-driver David Senior, didn't put a foot wrong on his way through the ultra-quick Scandinavian stages and climbed nine places through the duration of the event, placing his PH Sport-run Citroen C4 WRC in a highly credible tenth place at the end of three, flat-out days.

Having tackled the rally before in a two-wheel-drive Junior rally car, Conrad soon realised the switchback roads of central Finland were a very different prospect in a total traction, turbo-charged World Rally Car. The need for perfect pace notes was highlighted to Conrad when he came close to being caught out in one exceptionally tricky left-hander in SS16 – the same corner which claimed Stobart driver Gigi Galli and Suzuki's P-G Andersson.

In the end, Africa's fastest rally driver overcame everything Finland could throw at him and he brought the C4 home in a comfortable 10th place, more than three minutes ahead of BP Abu Dhabi Ford driver Khalid Al Qassimi.

The quick quote…

"I loved these stages when I came here in a Junior car. Now I've driven them in a World car, I want to go back to the start and do it all again. Those roads in this car are just awesome!"

 

Conrad's full story…

"Coming here on the back of South Estonia gave us a good idea of the set-up for the car and the speed which would be needed on Rally Finland. Three days later, I can tell you the roads here are just incredible. I have learned a great deal during the event, but I also realise there's more to learn – it's so much about experience here in Finland.

"The car was great all the way through the rally. Okay, we played with some of the suspension settings every now and then, which helped us find more traction and we had a small brake problem, with some air in the brakes, on the second day, but nothing serious. One of the toughest things about this rally is getting your pace notes right.

You come through the stages at 60kp/h during the recce calling the crests and corners as accurately as possible, but then you arrive in the rally car at three times that speed and, believe me, things can look quite different. One example is a left-over-crest corner which tightened in the Kakaristo test.

Wow! A couple of cars had gone off there before us and I'm not surprised. When I started to turn the steering wheel for the tightening section of the corner nothing happened – we were a couple of feet in the air! It was a big moment.

"We've done it, though. We're through Finland, what a great experience. With the second half of the season up and running, I can't wait to get to Germany now!"

 

- Conrad Rautenbach -
Photos on automobilsport.com under PHOTOS - WRC Rallyes

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03.08.2008 / MaP

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