The Citroen team had a tough 2017 WRC season. The last race – Rally Australia – was not an exception from the rule. Mistakes and technical problems plagued the crews. In the end, Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle were the only C3 WRC pairing left. They finished seventh. Team principal Yves Matton assessed the event and explained what awaits Citroen in the short time until Rallye Monte Carlo.
What is your assessment of Rally Australia?
“After a series of good results, it was a frustrating to end the season. On day one, when the running order was largely in our favour, Kris managed to challenge for the lead. He looked set to secure at least a podium place, but a tiny contact with a bridge stopped him in his tracks. It was really unlucky. As for our young drivers, I asked them to show their speed this weekend. They both did just that, although it was less evident for Stéphane Lefebvre due to a series of setbacks, like the two punctures on Friday and two spins on Saturday. For his debut in Australia, Craig Breen produced an assured performance, managing to adapt his pace to the difficulties. Obviously, it’s a shame that they were both caught out in the rain on Sunday. That goes to show just how long the road is to get to the top, and probably even more so in WRC than elsewhere.”
What is your overall view of the 2017 season?
“In general terms, we have to be pleased with the quality of the competition offered by the WRC. The new generation of cars have more than lived up to expectations and we have seen exciting rallies from start to finish. It is a long time since four manufacturers and seven different drivers have won races in a single season! More than ever before, the World Rally Championship provides an excellent platform for a manufacturer looking to showcase its products.”
“Having said that, the level of competition has gone up several notches this year and we have to acknowledge that. As regards Citroen Racing, we were pleased to win two rallies, in Mexico and Spain. That matches the target set by Citroen’s senior management at the start of the season. I’m not overlooking the very tough times we experienced in the middle of the season, but the work undertaken in the summer has led to some concrete results since then.”
What preparations are underway for 2018?
“Preparations began several months ago. In the design office, the workshop and in testing, the C3 WRC is permanently undergoing development. Some upgrades have already been introduced, others are undergoing approval, pending homologation. The technical team, led by Christophe Besse, has a clear vision of the areas in which we need to improve. The times set in Spain, Wales and Australia lead us to believe that our car is competitive. As regards the drivers, we will shortly announce our plans. It’ll be a matter of weeks since preparations for the Rallye Monte Carlo will begin in December. One thing I can confirm is that Sébastien Loeb will not be taking part in the opening round of the season. The fact that Monte starts just days after the Dakar Rally ends means that he wouldn’t be able to do himself justice.”
We had to go for it. A Podium spot was up for grabs! Unfortunately we got caught out on a slippy R / crest in SS18, hit the bank and rolled! Sorry to the team @CitroenRacing .Not nice to finish the season this way but so much too look forward too next year. #WRC2018 @Craig_Breen pic.twitter.com/sjAgETiD8R
— Scott Martin (@scottmartinat) November 19, 2017