Citroen Racing announced their driver line up for the 2018 WRC line-up with Kris Meeke returning full-time to the C3 WRC.
Ireland’s Craig Breen returns to the team for 10 events for the 2018 season while Khalid Al Qassimi will drive a third car for selected events.
Stephane Lefebvre will drive the Citroen C3 R5 as it makes its debut in the WRC2. The big news is that nine time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena will return to the WRC for three rounds in 2018 with the Frenchman competing in Mexico, Corsica and Catolina.
Speaking about their driver line up for 2018, Citroen Racing Team Principal Yves Matton commented by saying:
For 2018, we have decided to capitalise on what we’ve been building for a number of seasons now with Kris and Craig. Kris’ speed is unquestionable, and with the more relaxed mindset he had at the end of the year, he proved he had it in him to be a leader. The aim will be to target podiums, secure some wins, but Kris can also go for position in the championship. Meanwhile, Craig proved that he was the perfect foil, with some very consistent performances. There is still room for him to improve and aim even higher. I’m also delighted to see that there will be another chapter in the great history between Sébastien Loeb and Citroën: he couldn’t have returned to the WRC with anyone other than us! Seb confirmed that he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions completed, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car, compared with the increasingly tough competition. We still believe in Stéphane: we are convinced that he will be a good ambassador for the Citroën C3 R5, for which the brand has great hopes. And this programme will allow him to continue to add to his experience and therefore keep improving.
Kris Meeke who took one victory in 2017 commented by saying:
We learned a lot during the first season with the Citroën C3 WRC and we’ve gathered a lot of informationto help us do better in 2018. Despite a few tough moments, we managed to show our potential. We are now going to try even harder to be more consistent on the variety of surfaces used in the championship. We won’t be taking anything for granted but by working in a relaxed and calm manner, we can achieve good things. We’ll be aiming to score heavily at Monte-Carlo and in Sweden in order to get off to a good start in this second campaign.
Craig Breen is looking to build on a strong 2017 season saying:
I’m delighted to stay with the team for another year. I had a lot of things to learn this first full year in the WRC, but I managed to be consistent. We also worked a lot on fine-tuning the handling of the Citroën C3 WRC, and the progress made on gravel at the end of the season fills me with optimism. We have to keep going in order to obtain even better results. In any case, I’m going to do everything I can to get my first win at events like Rally Finland or Wales GB Rally, where I have a bit of experience.
Sebastien Loeb won the World Rally Championship with Citroen from 2004 – 2012 and speaking about his return to the WRC he commented by saying:
Everyone was pleased after the test sessions done this year, myself first and foremost, and these three appearances were the next logical step. The feeling you get in rally is one of the most thrilling feelings I have ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs in a race. And it’s nice to be able to do it in the team with which I have enjoyed so much success! I don’t have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself. I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I’ve always loved racing on tarmac, although I’m not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse. Spain seemed like a good option too. And although I’m expecting it to be pretty tough given the time that has passed since I last competed there, I also wanted to contest a gravel rally. We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn’t changed too much since I was last involved in the championship.
Khalid Al Qassimi commented by saying:
We focused on 2018 as regards the development of the Citroën C3 WRC and it was therefore important to continue with the drivers who already know the team and the car well. Kris and Craig make a good duo. Like many fans, I’m also very excited at the idea of seeing Sébastien Loeb back in the WRC driving a Citroën! My commitments mean that I’ll only be taking part in a handful of rallies this year. Although I won’t be able to be in Monte-Carlo, which is held just after the Dakar Rally, I will obviously be following the start to our season with great interest.
Stephane Lefebvre who will compete full time in the WRC2 commented by saying:
It’s a new challenge for the new year: sometimes, you have to take a step back, before taking two steps forward. I’ve been given a great opportunity to show just how competitive the Citroën C3 R5 is, whilst still competing as a works driver in the WRC2, a very closely contested championship. The aim is to win the title, and make the car the new benchmark in the category. Having driven it already in tests, I know that it is a well-designed car. Given that there is a need to finalise its development, I’ll come into the races with a lot of miles under my belt, and that’s what really matters at this stage of my career.
The 2018 WRC season will be launched at the 2018 Autosport International Show at Birmingham’s NEC Arena next month.