Citroën Racing boss Yves Matton has put his faith in Kris Meeke and Craig Breen to galvanise the squad after a troubled 2017.
Meeke won in Mexico and Spain but Citroën finished bottom of the manufacturers’ championship after starting the season as some people’s favourites.
Matton today (Wednesday) confirmed a full programme of 13 rounds for Meeke and 10 rallies for Breen in a C3 which showed improved performance late in the campaign.
Breen will stand down in Mexico, France and Spain to allow Sébastien Loeb to return in what will be a two-car line-up at most rounds. Team patron Khalid Al Qassimi will start several unspecified events in a third C3.
“For 2018 we’ve decided to capitalise on what we’ve been building for a number of seasons now with Kris and Craig,” explained Matton.
“Kris’ speed is unquestionable, and with the more relaxed mindest he had at the end of the year, he proved he had it in him to be a leader. The aim will be to target podiums, secure some wins, but Kris can also go for position in the championship.”
Breen finished fifth on six occasions this year and Matton believes the Irishman can regularly replicate the pace which earned him his first podium in Finland in 2016.
“Craig proved he was the perfect foil with some very consistent performances. There is still room for him to improve and aim even higher,” he said.
Meeke is targeting a strong start at the opening rounds in Monte-Carlo and Sweden. “We learned a lot during the first season with the Citroën C3 WRC and we’ve gathered a lot of information to help us do better in 2018.
“Despite a few tough moments, we managed to show our potential. We’re now going to try even harder to be more consistent on the variety of surfaces used in the championship,” said the Ulsterman.
Breen plans to use this year’s consistency as a launch pad for a maiden victory. “We have to keep going to obtain even better results. I’m going to do everything I can to get my first win at events like Finland or Great Britain, where I have good experience,” he said.
Stéphane Lefebvre has been dropped from the World Rally Car line-up. He will drive the new C3 R5 in WRC 2.