Citroen WRC

Citroën launches 2015-spec DS3 WRC

2015 Citroen DS3 WRC

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.

Kris Meeke is the other driver contributing to the manfacturers’ championship, while Mads Ostberg is probably secretly hoping he can beat both Loeb and Meeke and embarrass his bosses in a nice way.

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.”

Citroen WRC

Kris Meeke keeps his job with Citroën

2014 Wales Rally GB

Put Kris Meeke in a rally car and you’ll soon learn he has raw pace. Consistency is where Meeke struggles and, of course, he’s partial to the odd spectacular crash. Yet, after his full WRC season in a top team he has progressed enough to keep his job. And that’s good news for the WRC, because as well as pace Meeke is great to watch.

“When we chose Kris Meeke for this season, we took a bit of a gamble,” said Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “But he has improved with pretty much every race and has now become a complete driver.

“The real turning point was at Rally Finland. He adopted the right approach. He has managed to acquire experience throughout the season. He has shown that he not only has real pace, but that he can be more patient sometimes as well.”

Meeke’s ability to perform well on numerous surfaces impresses his bosses and helped his cause. He scored podiums in Monte-Carlo, Argentina, Finland and France.

“This first full season has been spent learning about the WRC,” explained the 35-year-old Meeke. “In the second half of the year, I was able to show part of my potential.

“There’s room for improvement, but I now have some decent foundations to build on next year, in order to keep progressing.”

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

2014 Rally de France-Alsace in pictures

2014 WRC Rally France

It’s been a massive weekend of motorsport. We’ve had the Bathurst 1000, the 6 Hours of Fuji and the Russian Grand Prix is currently sending the world to sleep. So if you’re still awake take this chance to relive the 2014 Rally de France-Alsace, won by Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala.

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

Jari-Matti Latvala wins 2014 Rally de France-Alsace

2014 Rally de France-Alsace

Jari-Matti Latvala won his first tarmac rally after claiming Rally de France-Alsace on the weekend. It’s his 12th WRC victory and, amazingly, it’s the 20th win from 24 starts for the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

Following the demise of Sebastien Ogier’s chances on the opening day due to a faulty gearbox sensor, Latvala dominated the rally, despite early competiton from his junior Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen.

In the end, a self-assured Latvala won by almost 45 seconds from Mikkelsen. Kris Meeke added to his resumé and 2015 employment chances by finishing third for Citroën. Dani Sordo was the best placed Hyundai in fourth, while Ford’s best result was the P5 claimed by Mikko Hirvonen.

Robert Kubica was sitting pretty, heading for fourth on the last day. It would have been his best WRC result, but he crashed out once again.

Ogier finished a lowly thirteenth but he did manage to earn himself maximum bonus points in the power stage. Although that wasn’t enough to wrap up his second world drivers’ title. He’ll have to wait for Rally Spain later this month, where he’ll need to earn one more point than Latvala to secure the championship.

Citroen Ford Hyundai Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

2014 Rallye Monte Carlo

Sebastien Ogier overcame a poor tyre choice on Day 1 to fight back and win the Rallye Monte Carlo in style, getting his world championship defence off to a near perfect start.

To rack up his first Monte win Ogier had to reel in an impressive Bryan Bouffier in his first outing at the wheel of a privately entered Ford Fiesta RS WRC. Bouffier’s name may be familiar to you, he was one of the test drivers who helped develop the Hyundai i20 WRC, so his second place result will be extra sweet after missing out on official driving duties with the Korean team this year.

Conditions during the rally were extreme and presented the drivers with all kinds of hazards, from ice, “shiny” wet patches on slippery tarmac, heavy rain and a snow storm just to top things off.

Kris Meeke took a big step in repaying Citroën’s faith and was delighted to overcome those difficulties unscathed on his way to satisfying third place. He leaves Monte Carlo with increased confidence, acknowledging he has no issue with raw pace, but has in the past made too many silly errors.

Robert Kubica may need to take a few notes from Meeke. The former F1 star was sure fast enough during the rally and was easily mixing it with the established WRC front runners. Yet, he still found his way off course and crashed into a bridge in a manner perhaps only Robert could. Thankfully the impact was at relatively low speed and he was in no real danger of any injury.

Jari-Matti Latvala finds himself in Ogier’s shadow once again, although he lost a bit of time on Day 2 with an annoying puncture. Latvala did register a small win over his teammate when he beat him to first place in the Power Stage by 0.2 seconds. Judging by the look on Ogier’s face immediately afterwards the world of motorsport has another Seb who doesn’t like losing one little bit!

Of course, Hyundai’s return to the WRC spotlight didn’t quite go to plan and they’ll be hoping for more in Sweden next month.

After the break there’s Volkswagen’s official word along with pictures and videos from the leading WRC teams.

Citroen WRC

Meeke and Ostberg signed by Citroën for 2014

Citroen DS3 WRC, 2013 Rally Australia

Citroën Racing announced its 2014 WRC driver lineup overnight and it’s big news, with Mikko Hirvonen shown the door from the French team. With the retirement of Sebastien Loeb behind them Citroën will return with two full-time drivers next year: 34-year-old Northern Irishman Kris Meeke will race alongside 26-year-old Norwegian Mads Ostberg.

It’s big show of faith for Meeke and co-driver Paul Nagle. Meeke’s last appearance for Citroën was at Rally Australia and things didn’t end well after he crashed out twice during the event.

“It’s an incredible opportunity,” Meeke enthused. “I’ve always been close to Citroën over the last few years. I’m really lucky to be able to work with a team that has so much experience and so many titles.”

“I have only competed in ten World Championship rallies in a WRC,” the former MINI driver added. “I think I’ve got some potential, but I still need to get some experience under my belt. The Citroën DS3 WRC is a terrific car and I’m going to be able to use the team’s knowledge to help me improve. I know that I’ll have to be patient in the first half of the season and learn all about the rallies that I haven’t done before.”

With 65 WRC events, and one victory, under his belt Ostberg is ready for the challenge ahead and brings with him a focus for success.

“I’m joining Citroën Racing to get some good results and to try and win some rallies,” the former Ford driver said. “I’ve always shown that I could be quick. I know that the standard in the World Rally Championship is exceptionally high, but I want to be competitive!”

As in 2013, Abu Dhabi driver Khalid Al Qassimi will drive in selected WRC events, which include Sweden, Portugal, Italy and Spain. He will also concentrate on taking part in the entire Middle East rally Championship.

The futures of Hirvonen, Dani Sordo and Robert Kubica remain uncertain. You’d expect Hirvonen to be considered by M-Sport. Meanwhile, the high of winning his first rally this year may be short lived for tarmac specialist Sordo. Kubica has previously said he will only race in the WRC next year if he can secure a full-time drive; his opportunities are fast running out.

Citroen Volkswagen WRC

Sebastien Ogier wins 2013 Rally Australia

Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2013 Rally Australia

Volkswagen ace Sebastien Ogier enjoyed a commanding weekend around Coffs Harbour winning 19 of 22 stages on his way to a dominant Rally Australia victory. It’s his sixth win of the year and came within a whisker of confirming his maiden world championship.

In order for Ogier to claim the title in Australia he needed to finish nine points or more ahead of Ford’s Thierry Neuville. And for much of the event, with Neuville in third place out of Mikko Hirvonen’s reach in second place, the stars seemed aligned for Ogier.

However, Hirvonen’s Citroën suffered a puncture on the final stage and cost him enough time to promote Neuville into second place. It was rotten luck for Hirvonen who has endured a difficult year. He is a three-time winner of Rally Australia and was enjoying a good rally and looked set for a comfortable second place.

The mathematical chance for Neuville to upset Ogier now hangs on by a single point, although most now expect Ogier will have the luxury of confirming his world title in front of his home crowd in next month’s Rally de France-Alsace.

Elsewhere in the field Jari-Matti Latvala suffered a puncture to his Polo R WRC on the opening day which put him out of contention. He was able to earn some decent points for Volkswagen in the manufacturers’ championship, though, coming home in fourth place. Young Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen put his name in the spotlight ending Day 1 in the lead of the event. His inexperience showed and he finished the race in sixth place.

For Citroën it had subbed out Rally Germany winner Dani Sordo for Kris Meeke. In the early stages Meeke was repaying that faith on the difficult Australian gravel running well and looking secure in third place. On Day 2 a small mistake sent Meeke down a steep embankment and his car rolled several times. The Citroën crew did an amazing job to rebuild the car overnight and Meeke was able to rejoin the rally on the final day. Unfortunately he made another error and ripped the right rear suspension from his car. The 34-year-old Irishman cut a forlorn figure at rally’s end.

A quick shout out too for Coffs Harbour local Nathan Quinn who was competing in a Motorsport Italia MINI JCW WRC and brought it home in one piece in eighth place collecting four world championship points.

Photos, videos and official press statements from both Volkswagen and Citröen are all yours after the break.

Citroen WRC

Rally Australia: Out Dani Sordo, in Kris Meeke

Kris Meeke, Citroen WRT

In a cruel irony former MINI WRC driver Dani Sordo has been cast aside by the Citroën World Rally Team and will be replaced by former MINI WRC driver Kris Meeke.

Meeke and co-driver Chris Patterson will step into Sordo’s car for Rally Australia (13–15 September). An official Citroën WRT statement suggests that Dani can now, “focus on finding form in a less pressurised environment.” Ouch, that’s cutting!

And it gets worse for Sordo, with the team’s appraisal of his Rally Finland performance: “The fastest rally on the calendar proved tricky for Dani Sordo, who was not able to find the right rhythm to make it into the leading places. Sorely lacking in confidence on gravel, the Spanish driver has agreed with Citroën Racing that he will sit out the next round in order to try and take a step back and find some form on the surface away from pressure.”

But it’s all good news for Meeke, who was the first of the MINI drivers to lose his seat, while Sordo carried on until MINI finally pulled the plug. It’s not a bad return for Meeke, who wrote off his Citroën DS3 WRC in his first outing for the team at Rally Finland. He was filling in for regular driver Khalid Al-Qassimi.

“We are really very happy that Citroën has shown faith in us again after our performance at Rally Finland,” Meeke said. “For us, this is an incredible opportunity to take part in the rally as part of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team alongside Mikko and Jarmo, and we are determined to give our best.”

Meeke says he’s comfortable in his new team and is looking ahead to the future, he reveals more in an interview with Red Bull.


MINI WRC Rally d’Italia debut in pictures


After a long build up the MINI WRC made it’s full race debut at Rally d’Italia on the weekend. Dani Sordo achieved consistent results bringing his car home in sixth place. Kris Meeke had a few teething problems and did not finish the race. Dave Wilcox, Technical Director, has a debrief on the event where he details some of Meeke’s issues.

There’s quite a break now until the MINI WRC is back in competitive action at Rally Finland (28–30 July). Dani Sordo will be back in the car this weekend, though, fulfilling promo duties at the Cornbury Park Rally Show near Oxford.

Meanwhile, here’s a small gallery of images of the two MINI WRCs from Sardinia.