The Citroen Racing WRC team head to Sweden next weekend hoping for a better outing for the new C3 WRC.
Craig Breen will compete in the second rally of the 2017 World Rally Championship in the C3 for the first time taking over from Stephane Lefebvre who will drive the DS3. Breen ended the opening event in Monte Carlo last month in fifth place in the DS3.
Speaking ahead of the event next weekend, Citroen Racing Team Principal Yves Matton commented by saying:
As soon as we returned from Monaco, the team got to work in a calm and determined fashion. Analysis of the Rallye Monte-Carlo showed that our poor performance stemmed from a series of isolated incidents, more often than not unpredictable, rather than a major underlying problem. We take some comfort from that point of view and we remain confident about our potential. In Sweden, we are obviously hoping for a better result. Once again, Kris Meeke will be aiming to win, whilst Craig Breen will need to learn and improve on his first rally with the C3 WRC. We’ll still only have two cars nominated to score points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, but we hope we can make up some ground in the standings.
Citroen technical director Laurent Fregosi commented by saying:
Over the years, we have learned to cope with the specific challenges posed by this rally. The settings are different to those used on gravel and we have noted in testing that the C3 WRC responds well with our usual solutions. If the conditions deteriorate, with less snow and ice, we will need to be able to adjust the set-up, adapting the suspension to the ruts that form on the racing line. In those sorts of conditions, the tyre’s studs tend to break, so we would need to limit this phenomenon by making changes to certain settings. As the cars cover more ground, snow tends to build up on the car and the increased weight can reduce performance. We took this into account when we designed the bodywork, but this phenomenon remains inevitable.
Kris Meeke is not fully confident heading into rally Sweden saying:
After a disappointing Monte-Carlo, both for me and the team as a whole, it’s difficult to feel fully confident coming into Rally Sweden. We have learned the lessons from the opening round and we’ll come back stronger at the upcoming events. It’s a long season. I’m happy to be back at one of my favourite rallies. In theory, I come here aiming to win, but we know that everyone’s performance level will depend in large part on the weather conditions. If it snows before the rally, my starting position for the first leg will be ideal. On the other hand, if we have a mild spell that melts the ice, then my chances would be reduced. We’ll do our very best.
Craig Breen will test the C3 in Sweden on Saturday and speaking ahead of the event he commented by saying:
I’m very excited about making my competitive debut with the Citroën C3 WRC! I can’t wait to get started. This is something that I’ve been waiting for all my life. I have good memories from this rally, not least the 2016 event, which was my first WRC outing with Citroën. I’d also say that this surface is little bit more forgiving of minor mistakes, or at least that is the case when there are really compact snow banks! I feel confident in these surroundings, in the car and with the team. And although we don’t really know what to expect, I’m ready to rise to the challenge.”
Stephane Lefebrve commented by saying:
Rally Sweden is certainly the one where I have the most to learn, since I have only competed here once before, two years ago in the DS 3 R5. So from that point of view, I won’t be frustrated to be driving a previous-generation car. With the pressure off, I’ll be able to progress at my own pace. My aim will be to bounce back after a difficult Monte-Carlo. It’s difficult to make predictions or to set myself a specific target, but we’ll be looking to seize the slightest opportunity to score points.
Rally Sweden takes place from February 9-12.