Citroën Racing is returning to the World Rally Championship with a full program and a brand new car – the C3 WRC. The car’s development was the shortest in the team’s history but all the crews seem pleased with it until now. Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau will be in C3 WRC this weekend, while Craig Breen/Scott Martin will be with DS3 WRC.
“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. It will be different for Stéphane. Like Craig, 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 points finish and ensure he makes it to the end. We only have two cars here. That means that there’s no backup option or safety net”, team principal Yves Matton said.
— Yves Matton (@Yves_Matton) 17 January 2017
Kris Meeke says he needs to ‘stay relaxed and focused’
The Northern Irishman and his co-driver completed their final set-up work for the season opener in mainly dry conditions in the south of France. But they have already experienced a number of different road surfaces in preparation for Monte – including a snowy outing on the Col de la Bonette, one of the highest roads in the Alps.
“The final pre-event test was good, although we didn’t get the conditions we’d been hoping for. We wanted ice and it only just started to snow just as we were finished in the evening. It seems that guys who went north got full snow and it was quite dry for those of us in the south. But no matter; you have to plan your tests and you can’t predict the weather”, Meeke explained.
“In any case, we’re happy with the work we’ve done. I believe we’re in good shape although of course, you can never know for sure. Let’s see what we can do. There are a lot of people getting really excited on the eve of this new season and it’s up to me to stay relaxed and keep my focus on the job ahead. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I have the feeling that we’ll be in the spotlight here, but I hope I can concentrate on my driving”, Meeke added
“It’s never easy to compete at Monte-Carlo. At each service, we’ll need to put our heads together to come up with the right – or the least wrong – tyre choice. People have no idea of the mountains of work done during test sessions to acquire data and then work out whether a given option is the right one. In this area, Citroën Racing has a great deal of experience that I can make use of. For this first rally, my aim is pretty simple: stay relaxed and enjoy myself in the car. They do say, and rightly so, that anything can happen at Monte-Carlo.”
Stéphane Lefebvre said:
“Gradually, I realise that the day of reckoning is getting closer. What we have been talking about for months as being in the future is now here, in the present! We have been discussing all sorts of things with the engineers. Every day, talking about the slightest detail related to my car. Nothing has been left to chance and it’s genuinely fascinating to be in the middle of this works team.”
“On this, my first rally with this status, I will be aiming to finish in a good position and score as many points as possible for Citroën. I’m still short of time behind the wheel with the C3 WRC and I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I have to get to grips with the car in racing conditions before trying to drive on the limit. I think we’re all in the same boat to some extent, with a number of unknowns in all areas.”
Craig Breen said:
“I will certainly be the driver under the least pressure this weekend! I’m pleased to start my season in an old car, because I don’t have a lot of experience at Monte-Carlo. This appearance will give me the chance to learn about the rally. It will also be an opportunity to note the gap between the two generations of World Rally Cars. My priority is to rack up the miles. But I will also be pleased if I manage to score a few points. They may come in handy in the final reckoning at the end of the season.”