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New R5 cars
debut in Italy

Rally Italia Sardegna marks the World Rally Championship debut of the two latest new-generation R5 cars to enter the sport.

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Both Peugeot’s 208 T16 and Citroen’s DS3 R5 were expected to appear in WRC 2 earlier in the season but suffered homologation delays.

Now Karl Kruuda’s 208 T16 and Sébastien Chardonnet’s DS3 R5 will be pitched against a string of similar turbocharged 1600cc, four-wheel drive Ford Fiesta R5s handled by the likes of Ott Tänak and Nicolas Fuchs.

Kruuda’s car is prepared by Hungarian team Tagai Racing Technology and the 21-year-old Estonian finished second in it at his own country’s Harju Ralli last month.

He lies fourth in WRC 2 after winning the category at Rally Sweden in February but says the new car will mean a fresh approach.

Sébastien Chardonnet and co-driver Thibault de la Haye with Citroen's DS3 R5

“I still have a lot to learn about the car because I’ve only done one small test and one local rally in Estonia,” said Kruuda. “That means I don’t have the confidence yet to push to the limit of the car. The main goal is to bring the car to the finish and if there are problems then we will use the rally to solve them.”

Having spent much of his recent career driving normally aspirated Fiestas, Kruuda is still adapting to the turbocharged Peugeot.

“Getting used to the turbo is one thing but also going from a six-speed gearbox to the five-speed gearbox is not easy,” he said. “My pace notes are written according to the gear I am in more or less, and with the five-speed gearbox it can be hard to understand what gear to use.”

Following Sardinia, the last of his initial two-event deal, Kruuda must decide what to do next.

Karl Kruuda - hopes to stay with Peugeot's 208 T16. Photo by Urmo Luts, www.foto.urmo.ee

“I hope we will continue with this car but if I am not happy there is a possibility we will go back to the Super 2000 car,” he added.

Chardonnet was handed the keys to the DS3 R5 after winning the WRC 3 category and Citroen’s Top Driver series last year. After missing Rally de Portugal, Sardinia is the first of a six-round WRC 2 campaign.

“It’s quite a big step up for me,” he admitted. “I had the chance to take part in the development of the DS3 R5 during the winter and start racking up the miles in a four-wheel drive car. Although I clearly needed some time to adapt, I found my old reflexes came back from when I used to race on circuits."

The Frenchman is focused on gaining experience this weekend. “I always want to win. But you always need to go through a period of learning first, and you can’t afford to ignore that. I know that racking up the miles is not only very important for me but for Citroën Racing too,” he added.

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