Citroën is out for a moment, but they’ll be right back

Aaand, they’re out! But not out out, as many of us feared, fortunately. Now, I’m not saying things cannot change, but I am fully confident in Citroën Racing’s ability to rebuild its World Rally Championship programme around the new car for 2017. I don’t think this is just an excuse to dive below radars in 2016 and then vanish completely – let’s show at least some confidence in corporate promises, shall we? Their move is quite bold but also makes sense economically – they had to come up with a way to untangle their motor sports knot and by putting WRC on hold they will be able to focus on WTCC next year, wrapping that programme up as the season ends. At the same time, they’ll be working on their new WRC car while also taking part in selected rallies, most likely through a semi-factory call-it-private-if-you-must team effort.

Mads Ostberg quickly declared himself not interested in such a thing as a year off and he is out of Citroën mere hours after team’s initial announcement. I don’t think he would just leave without having at least some kind of alternative, but maybe he did exactly that. Whatever the case, he’s out and looking for work, but Kris Meeke is still negotiating with the team (in time of writing). Will Mads end up at M-Sport or Hyundai? Who will take his place at Citroën? Entertaining questions, “for sure”.

Speaking of questions, what on earth is lurking below that red cover in the photo above, I wonder. Is it a new WRC car? If it is, it looks big and edgy. I like this promise of a better, stronger and more competitive Citroën in 2017. I like this idea more than I would like to see them continue their current programme next year, collecting leftovers, trying to balance two programmes and two budgets and not seeing results. I am a believer.

Official PR follows below.

CITROËN MAPS OUT ITS SPORTING FUTURE

Unveiling its future in motor sport, Citroën has announced that it will be taking part in the World Rally Championship from 2017.The team’s entry will be based on cars designed in line with the FIA’s new technical regulations. In order to dedicate as many resources as possible to development of the new car, the Citroën Racing team will be putting its involvement in the WRC on hold next season. In 2016, the Citroën Total team will defend its FIA WTCC world titles with two Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs, driven by José María López and Yvan Muller.

Citroën has won an incredible fifteen world titles over the last twenty-two years, between 1993 and 2015: five in the Cross Country Rally World Cup, eight in the WRC and two in the WTCC.

The brand’s success in the motor sport industry has become a key component in developing Citroën’s new brand image, while contributing to the growth of the company.

As the 2015 season draws to a close, Citroën outlined plans for its next challenge, focusing on the brand’s core values: team spirit, pushing yourself to the limit and creativity. In line with the strategy defined by Carlos Tavares, Chairman of the PSA Peugeot Citroën Management Board, the brand will concentrate its sporting commitments on a single worldwide programme.

After reviewing all of the current motor sport categories, Citroën has chosen to compete in the FIA World Rally Championship due to the brand’s past success in the sport and future opportunities available that will reaffirm the brand’s position in the industry.

“With eight world titles and a record 94 wins, Citroën has certainly enjoyed unrivalled success in the WRC,” commented Linda Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of the Citroën brand. “Rallying is a fascinating sport, which tests the performance, reliability and solidity of the cars and drivers in some magnificent settings. The category is taking off again, with increasingly widespread live television coverage and the arrival of China on the calendar in 2016. In 2017, the appearance of a new generation of cars will coincide with our renewed involvement. Everything will therefore be in place for us to write a new chapter in the brand’s history. Given Citroën’s rich heritage, this challenge had to be ambitious with new objectives that will motivate the team and ensure continual success.”

The 2017 generation of World Rally Cars will be more impressive with more powerful engines and imposing aerodynamic features. This radical change in the regulations will enable Citroën Racing to compete on equal terms with its rivals, after devoting 2016 to the development of the new model.

“We have always been interested in the 2017 WRC regulations and the entire team is extremely motivated by this new challenge,” commented Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal.

“We’re excited by this new level of freedom to make the cars more spectacular, but also the possibility of reusing development work done on the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC’s engine. With a view to managing our resources efficiently, we have decided to focus all our efforts on designing and developing our new World Rally Car. This is why Citroën will not be competing in the 2016 World Rally Championship as a works team. We will obviously be keeping a close eye on the WRC, both with the organisation of the FIA Junior WRC and with the WRC2 programme for Quentin Gilbert, this year’s JWRC Champion*.”

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