Citroën has unveiled its 2015-spec DS3 WRC which will be earning its money this weekend when Rallye Monte Carlo is underway.
The most successful rally pairing of all time, Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, will be making a one-off appearance for Citroën and they have been designated as one of the two crews who can score points for Citroën in the championship.
All three of the DS3 WRCs will be racing in 2015-trim which have new upgrades to the engine, suspension, aerodynamics and gearbox.
“The DS 3 WRC is a very accomplished car, but we have worked hard to make it even more competitive,” Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director explained.
“For example, we have focused our efforts on the engine so that it delivers more power and torque, whilst also improving reliability. Taking advantage of the changes in the regulations, we have reintroduced steering wheel-mounted paddles for the gear changes.
“Other significant improvements have been made to the aerodynamics, with a new spoiler and a new front end that will be introduced shortly, as well as to the weight distribution with the use of lighter parts. Lastly, we have altered the kinematics of the rear suspension. Work is ongoing and, in the next few months, we will be presenting another aerodynamic upgrade.”
Sébastien Loeb kicks off the 2015 season at Rallye Monte Carlo
- Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will be competing at Rallye Monte-Carlo in a DS 3 WRC
- For this one-off appearance, the nine-time World Champions will be aiming to score points for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle
- A third DS 3 WRC will be driven by Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson
- Stéphane Lefebvre, last year’s Junior WRC champion, begins his season in a DS 3 R5 alongside co-driver Stéphane Prévot
- The DS 3 WRCs will all feature a new livery celebrating the 60th anniversary of the original DS
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will return to action in a DS 3 WRC contesting the opening round of the 2015 World Rally Championship season, Rallye Monte-Carlo. Winners of nine world titles and 78 rallies (including seven wins in Monaco), the legendary crew are set to cause a stir with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
To start the new season, several significant upgrades have been made to all three of the DS 3 WRCs entered, from engine and suspension to aerodynamics and gearbox. “The DS 3 WRC is a very accomplished car, but we have worked hard to make it even more competitive,” commented Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, Citroën Racing’s Technical Director. “For example, we have focused our efforts on the engine so that it delivers more power and torque, whilst also improving reliability. Taking advantage of the changes in the regulations, we have reintroduced steering wheel-mounted paddles for the gear changes. Other significant improvements have been made to the aerodynamics, with a new spoiler and a new front end that will be introduced shortly, as well as to the weight distribution with the use of lighter parts. Lastly, we have altered the kinematics of the rear suspension. Work is ongoing and, in the next few months, we will be presenting another aerodynamic upgrade.”
The sporting regulations have also been changed for 2015. At each event, the running order for the crews will mirror the championship standings on the Friday and Saturday. On the final day, the reverse order of the overall rally standings (for P1 and P2 drivers) will be used. In Rally2 (rejoining the rally after a retirement), the penalty applied has been increased from 5 to 7 minutes for each stage missed. The cars allowed to rejoin will be first on the road. It is also now forbidden to relay information and split times to the crews during the stages.
AN IMPORTANT ROUND FOR CITROËN RACING
The legendary Rallye Monte-Carlo opens the new World Rally Championship season. The Monaco-based rally is a special event in the WRC. With the DS in the 1950s and 1960s, then the Xsara, C4 and DS 3 in more recent times, Citroën Racing has one of the best competitive records at the event.
Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena hold the record number of wins there, with seven victories between 2003 and 2013. Third in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) in 2014, Sébastien Loeb returns to the WRC after more than a year away from world rallying. Accompanied by long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, the French ace didn’t hesitate when Yves Matton offered him the chance to drive the DS 3 WRC again.
The most famous driver/co-driver pair in the history of rallying will be competing to score points for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle. The Northern Irishman will be taking part in his seventh Rallye Monte-Carlo, but only his second in the WRC. However, his lack of experience didn’t prevent him from grabbing a podium spot in 2014 with the DS 3 WRC.
Competing in all rounds on the 2015 calendar, Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson will be behind the wheel of the third DS 3 WRC. The Norwegian has only started this event on two previous occasions: he was sixth in 2013 and fourth last year, just behind his team-mate.
Former winners of the Citroën Top Driver series and among the leading crews in the FIA WRC2 Championship last year in a DS 3 R5, Sébastien Chardonnet and Thibault de la Haye will be competing in the opening round of the season in a privately-entered DS 3 WRC.
Stéphane Lefebvre, the 2014 FIA Junior WRC champion, will be competing in the FIA WRC2 Championship in a DS 3 R5, alongside co-driver Stéphane Prévot. In total, three DS 3 R5s are competing in this category.
Yves Matton (Citroën Racing Team Principal): “Monte-Carlo is a very important rally for Citroën Racing.
The context at the start of the season, with the one-off return of Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena, makes it all the more special. We know that they will come under great scrutiny and that just the fact of being here will cause a stir. For the entire team, this first round has been eagerly awaited. We’ll get to see the results of several months of work.
The DS 3 WRCs have been upgraded with the aim of increasing performance. Our rivals have undoubtedly made improvements too, so we have to manage to remain competitive. Our aim is to remain among the best and the efforts of the team, its experience, the return of Sébastien Loeb and the progress made by Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg are our strengths.”
Sébastien Loeb: “When Citroën Racing offered me the chance to take part in this rally, it didn‘t take long to decide! Monte-Carlo is held on French roads. I love the atmosphere and how close we get to our supporters. I’m also happy to get that special feeling back in the DS 3 WRC. On the first day of testing, I had to get back into the swing of things, but it all came back to me pretty quickly. The driving style is very different to what I have become used to with the C-Elysée WTCC. With four-wheel drive and normal roads, you have to improvise a lot more. These tests were useful, but it is always difficult to prepare for a Rallye Monte-Carlo. You can’t predict what the conditions will be like on the day. My aim is to be competitive, but we have to remember that I haven’t driven in a rally at this level for over a year. Every time I start a race, I give it my best shot. It’ll be no different this time and if we can fight for the win, so much the better.”
Kris Meeke: “I’m happy to start a new year with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. In 2014, I was experiencing the vast majority of the rallies on the calendar for the first time. I learned a lot and I realised just how important it is to rack up the miles and experience. Generally speaking, all drivers make progress in their second full season and I hope I’m no exception to the rule. I also think that the work done on the DS 3 WRC is going to help us to go even faster. Citroën Racing has always enjoyed great results at Monte and the team has extensive experience of the event. And although it’s impossible to predict what’ll happen at this rally, being able to count on a team like this is obviously a big advantage. My goal is to fight for one of the leading places.”
Mads Østberg: “I felt good at the end of the 2014 season. Continuing with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is very positive. I learned a lot last year with a new car and a new team. And although it’s always difficult to set goals at the start of the year, I want to keep improving. I am going to take each race as it comes and I hope that this approach will pay dividends. Monte-Carlo is potentially the most difficult rally of the year. Depending on the conditions, you can have dry tarmac, wet tarmac, shiny ‘black top’ tarmac, ice and snow… and sometimes all with the same tyres. It can be a big challenge. In order to have a good Monte-Carlo, you need to make the right tyre choices, have good pace notes, good gravel crews and the right team.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “It’s a brand new challenge for me. In a four-wheel drive car, everything goes more quickly. During the off season, I started working on adapting my pace notes to this new speed with Stéphane Prévot. The end of my 2014 season, with two races in a DS 3 R5, meant that I have been able to hit the ground running a little bit in this learning process. I’m ready for Monte-Carlo. I have taken part in this rally once before, but the route was different. I feel that I have great support from Citroën Racing, the PH Sport team, Stéphane Prévot alongside me in the car and Alexandre Bengué as my gravel crew driver. It’s now up to me to make the most of all these assets to be competitive.”
MONACO TO GAP AND BACK – INCLUDING A RUN OVER THE COL DE TURINI
Shakedown is due to take place on Wednesday, 21 January, from 16:00 to 20:00 at Chateauvieux, six kilometres to the south of Gap.
The rally kicks off the following day from Place du Casino in Monaco at 18:30 for a first leg designed to send the drivers and teams to Gap. After two night stages (Entrevaux – Rouaine, and Norante – Dignes les Bains), the first car is expected to reach the service park at 23:26.
Friday’s leg will begin at 08:10 with two new loops of three stages (La Salle en Beaumont – Corps, Aspers les Corps – Chauffayer and Les Costes – St Julien en Champsaur), split by the midday service in Gap at 12:37. The cars are due in Parc Ferme at 18:02.
On Saturday, the crews will set off from Gap towards Monaco as they tackle four more conventional stages: two runs on Prunières – Embrun, the 51.70-kilometre long Lardier et Valenca – Faye and the 36.85 kilometres of the famous Sisteron – Thoard test.
The final day starts with the Col St Jean – St Laurent test before the crews tackle the long version of the Col de Turini as part of the 31.66-kilometre long La Bollène Vésubie – Sospel stage. A second run on Col St Jean – St Laurent will serve as the Power Stage, starting at 12.08. The crews will leave service and head for the podium ceremony at 13:49.
Unlike in previous years, crews will be authorised to rejoin under ‘Rally2’ rules at Rallye Monte-Carlo but only on the first two days. Any crews that retire during Saturday’s leg will not be entitled to rejoin the rally on Sunday.