Sarrazin gets new co-driver

Stephane Sarrazin has been forced to take on a new co-driver for this weekend's season-opening Monte Carlo Rally, after regular partner Jacques-Julien Renucci has been told to stand down because of illness

Sarrazin gets new co-driver

The move means that Patrick Pivato, who was Sarrazin's co-driver en route to last year's French Rally Championship, will take over duties for this event. He joined Sarrazin for the first reconnaissance in Monte Carlo.

Sarrazin is upbeat about his chances for impressing in Monte Carlo, but still believes that it will be too early for him to even considering finishing in the top three.

"Driving the Subaru Impreza WRC2004 feels very good, I have a nice feeling in the car and am starting to know it better," he said. "During the pre-event test we made lots of changes, the car was very reactive and now I'm confident as I know where to go.

"It's a good start for the race, but I can't say I will finish on the podium in Monte Carlo, as it's too early for me. The most important thing is to stay on the road and get more experience, so we will see. The team is very open, which is fantastic, I've just arrived and already have a good feeling with everyone. It's a very, very good start for me I think."

Team boss David Lapworth is confident that Sarrazin will become a star in the WRC although backs the Frenchman in believing that the Monte Carlo event may be a tough baptism for him.

"Looking to Stephane, he's a new French driver on what is basically a French event, so he's likely to be in the spotlight," explained Lapworth. "It's an extremely difficult event for new WRC driver and inevitably there will be parts of the route affected by the ice and snow of which he's got limited experience.

"That said, there will be places where his performance on dry tarmac will stand him in good stead and we've been very impressed with his approach to everything he's done in the last year.

"He's very level headed and handles pressure exceptionally well, but it's unreasonable to set objectives for him in terms of final result at this stage. Clearly his focus has to be gaining experience."

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