Everyone’s attention was, and still is, focused on Citroën and the announced change to their WRC programme for next year. Team boss Yves Matton shared some thoughts and hints about next year, but we still have no clear picture of team’s prospects for 2014.
But Citroën is not the only team with question marks over their heads. Qatar M-Sport WRT, known to some as Ford, also remains a mystery when it comes to 2014. Many people believe Ford will, sooner or later, decide to restart their WRC programme, but for now that’s nothing more than wishful thinking. For all we know, Ford is gone and the current team relies on M-Sport and Qatar, while Ford is providing the infamous “technical support”.
Too bad Qatar M-Sport did not win handful of rallies this year! I think it would take around three wins for Ford to start thinking about putting their name back into team’s official name once again.
Speaking of mysteries, Thierry Neuville really enjoyed this weekend in France. First day belonged to him but then came the puncture/tyre off the rim and he dropped down the order. Still, many eyes were upon him, trying to figure out his plans for 2014. Becs Williams of WRC Live talked to him and learned that “he will do what’s best for him”, but will only make a decision when “he feels it’s the best time to do it”.
But why would Thierry want to move? He is part of a big team this year, huge in fact. He is driving a very competitive car (it’s hardly Fiesta’s or M-Sport’s fault that Evgeny Novikov and Mads Ostberg are as reliable as the Hyundai Accent WRC) and he is always very keen to emphasize just how good the car is in all kinds of conditions. Neuville is also a team leader in Qatar M-Sport, even though he initialy wasn’t supposed to be a part of it. So, experienced team = check, damn good car = check, team status clear = doublecheck. What else is there? Ah yes, monies.
Well, money and the fact that we still don’t know what kind of programme Qatar M-Sport will run next year, if any. We do not know, but perhaps Thierry does. And if he knows, maybe he does not like it. Perhaps other teams can offer him at least 2 year contracts while Qatar M-Sport can only afford year-to-year deal? Questions!
I should remind you that we’re also waiting for Hyundai to announce their line up for 2014. Latest flavour of the week rumour states that Neuville is en route to Hyundai, which would satisfy his desire to be a factory driver, but it also is a rather strange thing to consider, given the experience of his current team and the potential of Fiesta RS WRC. Hyundai does look very serious and i20 WRC looks more on the pace with every new test, but it’s a new team. Unlike Volkswagen, they did not spend last couple of years winning everything in IRC with their sister brand. Qatar M-Sport does sound like a better choice compared to Hyundai, but only if they (Qatar) do not decide to reduce their programme for next year.
Then there’s Citroën too. They “invested heavily” in Neuville last year and they would love to see some of that investment returned. But, if Citroën will not be called Citroën next year (guessing here), Thierry will not get his wish to be a factory driver!
And so the waiting game continues. Citroën is waiting for Qatar M-Sport is waiting for Thierry Neuville is waiting for Qatar M-Sport and Citroën are waiting for FIA/Red Bull/WRC Promoter GmbH are waiting for…