Lappi: ‘We had big improvements’

Citroën Racing personnel have talked of the potential and what might have been with next year’s C3 World Rally Car.

The French manufacturer announced its decision to withdraw from the WRC on Wednesday. Since then team principal Pierre Budar and Esapekka Lappi spoke of their belief that the C3 had made progress ahead of 2020.

“I think we could have done quite big steps,” said Lappi, who claimed a brace of second places this season. “The aero update was working very well, for sure it would have helped a lot on the fast stages and fast rallies. The difference in time was quite big from the old aero.

“We also had some performance-related updates with a new engine, new geometry with some steering updates and some other things for the diffs.”

The Citroen’s improved transmission was a real turning point in Lappi’s 2019 season, allowing him to exploit the car’s limits far more under braking while providing more grip and stability in corners.

He added: “Like we saw when I got the diffs I wanted, it all clicked on gravel. I was positive we had a big improvement for next year.”

Budar accepted the team was behind at the start of 2019, but felt it had caught up through the season and were ready to face 2020.

A rejuvenated Esapekka Lappi finished second in Finland

He said: “It was difficult to recover the time we lost at the beginning of the year, because we had new drivers, new engineers and they had to understand the car. They had to learn how to work together and make the priorities in the development.

“All this needed time at the start of the season and, of course, this time gave us some late advancement compared to other teams and, of course, we’ve not been able to recover this.

“But the progress we could see during the latest development tests. A better understanding and experience of the team race and data engineer on the car, they were quite new at the beginning of the season and now they have one more season (of experience).

“Altogether I’m quite sure we would have been much more in the fight next season, but that’s easy to say now…” he added.

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