Citroën Racing boss Yves Matton plans different tactics for drivers Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre as the French manufacturer begins its WRC comeback at Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 - 22 January) this week.
After presiding over a year’s sabbatical to develop Citroën’s new C3 World Rally Car to 2017’s exciting new regulations, team principal Matton will blend the experience of three-time WRC event winner Meeke with the less experienced Lefebvre on the car’s debut.
The C3 has impressed in testing and while Matton stopped short of targeting a debut victory for Meeke, who led last season before retiring with a mechanical problem, he clearly expects the Northern Ireland driver to be challenging at the front.
“Our crews will have two different approaches,” he said. “Kris showed last year that he has the ability to win this rally. But of course, we need to differentiate between driving throughout a day on a test run and completing a four-day rally with only two passes on the stages in recce.
“We’ll need to be defensive at the start of the race, to see where the competition lies and then look ahead to the rest of the rally.”
Lefebvre finished a career-best fifth in 2016 but Matton foresees a more measured approach for the 24-year-old Frenchman.
“It will be different for Stéphane. We want to take him to a level where he can challenge for race wins. But before that, there will still be a period of learning, especially in the first half of the season.
“He needs to aim for a points finish and ensure he makes it to the end. We only have two cars here, which means that there’s no backup option or safety net,” added Matton.
Craig Breen drives a 2016-specification DS 3 WRC and while he can score driver points, he is not eligible for points in the manufacturers’ championship.
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