Absolutely fantastic piece of news by Citroën Racing to wrap this Wednesday up: the newly crowned Junior World Rally Champion did not have to wait for his promotion for too long. Staying true to their image and tradition of supporting young talents through lower ranks and into the elite WRC category, Citroën Racing will continue to support young Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre next year. The jump from JWRC to WRC is a big one, and yes, you read that right – on top of six rounds in a DS3 R5, Stephane is also looking at additional four rounds some of which will be in a proper DS3 WRC machine, Citroën revealed. Needless to say, there will be quite a bit of pressure on Lefebvre, but the fact that Citroën entrusted him with this programme means he is up for the task.
Finally, this appointment is also a nice little reminder and a confirmation of Citroën’s dedication to World Rally Championship. Unless I am very much mistaken, it’s things like this that say “we’re here to stay” more than anything else. It’s now up to Stephane to learn and adapt to new cars and new performance requirements. If you were still not sure who to follow and support in WRC next year, well, here is your answer.
Official announcement by Citroën Racing follows below.
AN EXTENDED PROGRAMME FOR STÉPHANE LEFEBVRE
After producing a near flawless performance in the FIA Junior WRC last season, winning three of the opening four rallies, Stéphane Lefebvre secured the title at the Rallye de France-Alsace. Following in the footsteps of other Citroën drivers – including Sébastien Loeb – he therefore claimed the “two-wheel drive” crown in his first season in world rallying.
In line with its policy of identifying and supporting talented young drivers, Citroën Racing will give Stéphane Lefebvre the opportunity to move up a level in 2015. In addition to competing in six rounds of the WRC 2 in a DS 3 R5 – the prize rewarded to the FIA Junior WRC champion – Stéphane Lefebvre will also take part in at least four other rounds, some of which in a DS 3 WRC !
After winning on all road surfaces in the DS 3 R3, Stéphane Lefebvre will have the chance to reach new heights in a four-wheel drive car.
“I had given myself two years to win the FIA Junior WRC,” recalled Stéphane. “I knew that it would be a major challenge to get to grips with the World Championship. The events call for a lot of experience. It wasn’t easy, but we managed to be quick and kept out of trouble. I have set myself the same goals for 2015. After a couple of run-outs with the DS 3 R5 in Spain and Wales, we are going to work hard to improve and prepare for the step up to the DS 3 WRC. I’m very pleased that Citroën Racing has put their faith in me. Yves Matton and his team are very close to the drivers. It’s also an advantage to be able to learn in a team that has already won the World Championship eight times.”
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, added: “Since it was first set up, our team has looked to take talented young drivers to the upper echelons of the sport. Sébastien Loeb is the most famous example of this, but he is not the only one. Stéphane Lefebvre had a great season in 2014 with the DS 3 R3. It makes sense for us to support his progression with the DS 3 R5. He still has things to learn but we will do everything we can to help him take another step towards the elite level. He will therefore be taking part in at least two rallies in a DS 3 WRC. This programme, our involvement in the FIA Junior WRC and the Citroën Racing Trophy series held in the various countries show how our brand is committed to the sport at all levels.”
22-25/01/2015 – Rallye Monte-Carlo
12-15/02/2015 – Rally Sweden
21-24/04/2015 – Rallye de Portugal
11-14/06/2015 – Rally Italia
02-05/07/2015 – Rally Poland
30/07-02/08/2015 – Rally Finland
20-23/08/2015 – Rallye Deutschland
01-04/10/2015 – Rallye de France
22-25/10/2015 – Rally de España
12-15/11/2015 – Wales Rally GB