Friday | 05 Aug 2016

Driver deadline looms for Matton

Citroën boss Yves Matton has targeted early September as the date by which he hopes to finalise his driver line-up for the French manufacturer’s return to the WRC in 2017.

Neste Rally Finland winner Kris Meeke already has a long-term contract in his pocket to drive the new C3 World Rally Car until the end of 2018, but who partners him in Citroën’s line-up is a subject of big debate.

While Matton would not discuss potential candidates, he told it was his intention to make a decision at the beginning of September, leaving just ADAC Rallye Deutschland (18 - 21 August) and perhaps Rally China (8 - 11 September) at which to influence his thinking.

Of Matton’s current drivers, Meeke will pilot a lone Abu Dhabi Total team DS 3 in China, while team-mate Stéphane Lefebvre will drive a privately-entered version on Germany’s asphalt. Craig Breen (below), who scored his maiden WRC podium in Finland last weekend, will contest neither.

It is not known how many cars Citroën will campaign in 2017. Team patron Khalid Al Qassimi could drive a part-time programme in addition to two full-time regulars, raising the possibility of a third car being available elsewhere for another driver.

Breen did his chances of a seat no harm in Finland and an impressed Matton said: “What Craig did was amazing. After Poland, I was sure he was able to be fast. But in Finland to be fast and consistent is something different. He did really a perfect job.

“On Saturday night we had to think a little about what we were doing because the guys behind were so close. The strategy was to continue like he did at the beginning but when Tänak went off, we changed our philosophy and asked him to go for the top place.

“He did his first best time and it seemed he understood. You cannot manage a rally better than he did,” he added.


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