After disappointment at the championship's opening two rounds, Citroën team boss Yves Matton has hailed Kris Meeke's victory at Rally Guanajuato Mexico as a confidence-booster for the season ahead.
The French squad returned to full-time WRC competition this year after spending 2016 developing an all-new C3-based World Rally Car. But Citroën's comeback got off to a rocky start at Rallye Monte-Carlo and another lacklustre showing in Sweden left it ranked last in the team's standings.
But Meeke got things back on track in Mexico, claiming the C3 WRC's first win on the surface on which the majority of the championship is contested.
"This first win on gravel shows that the Citroën C3 WRC has some very solid foundations and that the team has done a good job. We can now continue to develop the car in a slightly more relaxed manner," said Matton, who acknowledged the significance of a win on gravel.
"If we'd had to choose, then obviously we would have loved to win at Monte-Carlo, which is a rally that has a special meaning for Citroën. But we have to keep our feelings out of this and look at things pragmatically.
"In terms of the World Championship, this result on gravel – on which around two-thirds of the season is contested – and in the particularly demanding conditions encountered in Mexico, is very encouraging going forward."
The team was also impressed by the reliability of its C3 on Mexico's hot and high altitude stages - conditions that showed shortcomings in other cars.
"We worked a lot on the cooling systems when developing the car," explained Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. "In the short to medium term, the fact we have no issues means we can focus fully on looking for extra performance."
The team has a Tarmac test planned before the upcoming Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse (6-9 April) where it will run three C3 WRCs for Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre.