Wales driver report: Part 1
Our assessment of the WRC runners in Wales
This morning, Citroën CEO Linda Jackson confirmed the decision to concentrate all the firm's sporting efforts on the WRC, along with plans to make a fresh start in the sport it dominated between 2004 and 2012.
“With eight world titles and a record 94 wins, Citroën has certainly enjoyed unrivalled success in the WRC,” said Jackson
“Rallying is a fascinating sport, which tests the performance, reliability and solidity of the cars and drivers in some magnificent settings. The category is taking off again, with increasingly widespread live television coverage and the arrival of China on the calendar in 2016.
"In 2017, the appearance of a new generation of cars, which are purported to be very attractive, will coincide with our renewed involvement. Everything will therefore be in place for us to write a new chapter in our history. Given the brand’s rich heritage, this challenge had to be ambitious. We will however be modest in our approach, gradually stepping up our objectives to the very top.”
The decision to remain in the WRC will bring an end to Citroën's participation in the WTCC. Having dominated the sport for the last two seasons, Citroën's programme will conclude at the end of its third in 2016.
Citroën Racing boss Yves Matton said the 2017 changes to the World Rally Championship's technical regulations represented an opportunity to compete on equal terms with rival manufacturers, and to use lessons learned on the race circuit.
“We have never hidden our interest in the 2017 WRC regulations and the entire team is extremely motivated by this new challenge,” he said. “We like the freedom granted to make the cars more spectacular, but also the possibility of reusing development work done on the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC’s engine."
Matton confirmed that in order to hit the ground running in 2017 Citroën would not enter the 2016 World Rally Championship as a works team.
"With a view to managing our resources efficiently, we have decided to focus all our efforts on designing and developing our new World Rally Car," he said. "We will obviously be keeping a close eye on the WRC, both with the organisation of the FIA Junior WRC and with the WRC 2 programme for Quentin Gilbert, this year’s JWRC Champion.”
Citroën's announcement makes no reference to 2015 WRC season drivers Kris Meeke or Mads Østberg, both of whom were being considered for future opportunities with the squad.