Citroën Racing boss Pierre Budar insists spirits remain high within the team following last month’s shock sacking of lead driver Kris Meeke.
He said the squad was ‘united’ and promised the French manufacturer would be back among the WRC frontrunners once his rebuilding programme was completed.
Speaking after last weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna in which Mads Østberg and Craig Breen finished fifth and sixth respectively, Budar said his team appreciated the situation at the Versailles-based squad.
“During the transitional phase that we are going through at the moment, all the members of the team remain united and focused on their respective jobs. We know that we have a good car,” he said.
“Although they are all real competitors, and are therefore desperate to achieve better results, they have also understood that we’re in a rebuilding process.”
Budar confirmed in Sardinia that Citroën would remain in the WRC for 2019 and 2020 and called for patience as the team recovered from the departure of Meeke, axed after a massive accident in Portugal last month.
“We’re trying to establish new, solid foundations in order to move forwards, setting our sights on 2019, and this might take some time,” he added.
“The C3 WRC is competitive on all surfaces and we’re determined to constantly keep improving it a little bit more. As soon as all the ingredients come together, we’ll be back amongst the leaders again.”
Citroën is last in the manufacturers’ standings, 32 points behind Toyota Gazoo Racing, but Budar was satisfied with his team’s performance.
“In the context of our current situation, I think you have to say we met our new targets. Both cars made it to the finish intact – and in the points – and they had no reliability issues,” he said.
His next task is to confirm a driver to partner Breen at next month’s Neste Rally Finland (26 - 29 July) before entries close in a couple of weeks. Østberg is favourite, but Stéphane Lefebvre, currently driving a C3 R5 in WRC 2, could receive a call-up.