Østberg expects a hot and technically difficult rally near Marmaris

Østberg expects a hot and technically difficult rally near Marmaris

Mads Østberg, Citroen
photo: Citroen Racing

Round ten of the 2018 season sees the C3 WRC experience Turkey for the first time, a country where its elder sister – the Xsara WRC – secured the brand’s first win on gravel in the WRC and which will be hosting a world rally championship round for the seventh time. Citroen WRT will once again look to Craig Breen – Scott Martin, Mads Østberg – Torstein Eriksen and Khalid Al Qassimi – Chris Patterson to defend its chances.

“I remember the very first time that Rally Turkey was held, in 2003, based in Kemer at the time”, Technical and Sporting Coordinator Didier Clément recalls. “The rally was special for us because it was Citroen’s first win on gravel in the WRC, and it was also Carlos Sainz’s first victory with the team. It also came in just the third race of the season, in our first year full-time in the championship, and after the famous one-two-three at Monte [Carlo]. We were still relatively inexperienced on this surface and our mechanics produced a minor feat in every service, as they tried to compensate for the lack of strength of the Xsara WRC’s bodywork.”

The team has certainly prepared well for this year’s rally with a three-day pre-event test in the Aude, reputed to have some of the roughest roads among the commonly-used test bases.

Mads Østberg and Craig Breen will be attempting to make the most of their favourable starting position on the opening leg (eighth and ninth in the running order respectively)

They look to secure the team’s fourth podium of the season.

“We’re expecting it to be hot this weekend. It’s going to be a technically difficult, demanding rally for the cars and that’s what we prepared for during our pre-event test in the Aude. I’m feeling pretty confident because I always produce decent performances on this kind of surface. And the C3 WRC is even more efficient and easier to drive than it was in Sardinia, which is the last event contested on similar types of road. We’re also going to be able to use some of the things we learned in Finland on this surface”, Østberg said.

Breen added that the aim is to get through the opening leg without any hiccups

“If we manage to do that, we should be right up there, in the mix and well placed for the rest of the rally. It’s difficult to take any real information from the onboard footage recorded by the organiser in a production car. One thing is sure, however: the course looks very interesting, with a good variety of roads, some narrow, technical and rough, others much quicker”, he explained.

Khalid Al Qassimi will be making his third appearance of 2018 in the C3 WRC and will be determined to pick up his pace in the car during the weekend.

“I’m delighted to be back behind the wheel of my C3 WRC, especially at a new event. It’s always exciting to contest brand new stages for the first time, especially as we’re expecting fairly difficult conditions. I’ve always felt comfortable at events like this. I have some good memories of the Acropolis Rally, for example. It’s always a question of finding the right balance between pushing and looking after the car”, Al Qassimi said.

Following a city-centre super-special stage on Thursday evening, the serious stuff starts on Friday with Çetibeli

At over thirty-eight kilometres, this is the longest stage of the weekend.

“This rally is new for everyone, so all the teams and crews will start off on an equal footing. It looks set to be a very open race. Reliability might be one of the key factors this weekend, but we know we can count on the strength of our C3 WRC. Although we have a solid base, we’ll need to adapt quickly to the conditions in any adjustments to the set-up”, Citroen Racing Team Principal Pierre Budar said.