Citroën Racing team principal Pierre Budar acknowledged the French squad ‘missed something’ in its build-up to what proved a disappointing performance at last weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
Sébastien Ogier’s hopes of a seventh world title took a major knock on Germany’s asphalt as severe understeer made cornering difficult, preventing him and team-mate Esapekka Lappi making their mark at the top end of the leaderboard.
Two punctures delayed Ogier further and the Frenchman finished seventh as Lappi deliberately took penalties at the final service to allow him through. The Finn ended one place behind.
The handling issue raised its head at the previous asphalt round in Corsica in March. Afterwards Budar promised a detailed analysis into the drop in form following the C3’s impressive pace en route to victory in Spain last year in the hands of Sébastien Loeb.
“We thought we had understood the reasons for our below-par performance in Corsica and had made the necessary changes for this Tarmac round. We had hoped to be among the frontrunners this weekend, but the truth is that wasn’t really the case,” he said.
“We were closer to the leaders this weekend than in Corsica, but still too far away to be satisfied. We clearly missed something in our preparations.”
Budar also pointed to bad weather which hindered the team’s pre-event work.
“The only full day of testing conducted by Sébastien and Julien (co-driver Ingrassia) was disrupted by rain, something we didn’t have during the rally in the end. So that prevented us from completing our test programme on dry Tarmac,” he added.
Ogier slipped to third in the title battle, 40 points behind leader Ott Tänak with a maximum 120 available from the final four rounds. Despite the disappointment, he believes there is still plenty to fight for.
“We were hoping to be fighting for the leading places because it was an important event and our objective was clearly to try and turn things around in the championship,” he explained.
“However, it quickly became apparent that our tests before the rally didn’t put right the car’s imperfections and the issues we had in Corsica reappeared.
“Despite our difficult situation, the season is not over and we’re not the giving up kind. We’ll keep on fighting, starting with Turkey in three weeks where it will be essential to go all out for a good result.”