The final round of the 2012 season, Rally de Espana will provide the crews with the last opportunity of the year to showcase their talents. With fourth position his best result to date, Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul (Citroën Junior World Rally Team) will be determined to finish on the podium in their DS3 WRC.
Newcomers to the Citroën Racing family, Hans Weijs Jr. and Bjorn Degandt will be drawing on their experience to produce the goods on the Costa Daurada stages.
Hosting the final round of the World Rally Championship for the first time this year, Rally de Espana offers a full menu to the competitors. After a first leg held predominantly on gravel, the cars will be converted to tarmac configuration for the next two days. The rally is famous for the wide, sweeping circuit-style roads of the province of Tarragona, and it is an event at which Citroën has an excellent record.
Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul will be completing their first full season in WRC here in Spain. Currently seventh in the overall standings, their best results to date are three top 5 finishes (4th in France, 5th in Argentina and New Zealand). “My aim was to be battling for a place on the podium by the end of the championship and that will be my goal in Catalonia,” stated the Belgian driver. “I am already familiar with this rally, having competed here in 2009 in a C2-R2 MAX. Although the rally was run exclusively on tarmac at the time, I have a little experience on these roads. I had really enjoyed the stages, which don’t get too dirty as more cars complete their runs. With good pace notes and a perfectly-balanced car, there is a lot of pleasure to be had behind the wheel!”
Like his rivals, Thierry will have to contend with the rally’s mixed surfaces: “In theory, I like the idea of racing on two different surfaces at the same rally. I know, however, that I may well be a bit less competitive on gravel. I hope to avoid losing too much time on the first day. To do that, I’ll need to qualify well and choose the best possible starting position for Friday. I have to keep the most important thing in mind: with over 400km of timed stages, it’s going to be a long rally, so perhaps I’ll need to be prepared to drive a little bit less quickly to keep out of trouble. I know it’s an important rally in terms of my future. Finishing the season on a high note would certainly improve our chances of being here again next year, which is what we want.”
For its twelfth rally of the year, the Qatar World Rally Team’s DS3 WRC will be entrusted to Hans Weijs Jr. and Bjorn Degandt. With 26 World Rally Championship events under his belt, the 25 year-old Dutchman already has plenty of top-level experience. Competing in a Citroën C2-R2 MAX and a C2 Super 1600, his three seasons in J-WRC have allowed him to hone and showcase his driving skills, which helped him to finish as Championship runner-up in 2010.
“I have competed in the rally on four previous occasions and have good memories of racing here, especially the 2009 rally, as that was where I claimed by first win in J-WRC,” recalled Hans. “This year, I have been competing in the South African Championship. Although we have had a tough year, it was fantastic to discover new horizons and to build up my experience. I am now thrilled to have this opportunity, which will enable me to drive what is currently the best WRC. I had the chance to drive the DS3 WRC in a test session, but I know I won’t be 100% in Catalonia. It is difficult to set a target, but obviously I hope to make it to the end without making any mistakes.”