The 2017 World Rally Championship season officially got underway on Wednesday in Monte Carlo as the teams and drivers got their first opportunity to drive their next generation WRC machinery under competitive conditions.
The Citroen Total Abu Dhabi Total team are making their full-time return to the World Rally Championship with a pair of new C3’s and a DS3 this weekend.
M-Sports Sebastien Ogier in the new M-Sports Ford Fiesta WRC car ended the shakedown stage fastest with a time of 2:18.1. Citroen Racing’s Craig Breen ended the stage as the fastest of their three cars in the DS3. The Waterford native ended in 16th place with a time of 2:34.3 and speaking following the shakedown he commented by saying:
It was quite a tricky shakedown. It’s difficult to get a clear reading on the standings because all the drivers were trying out various options in terms of tyre choice. In any case, the most important thing was to get some kilometres under our belt on the ice and snow. Everything went well and we’re ready for the weekend ahead.
Stephane Lefebvre was 18th with a time of 2:35.and speaking following the stage he commented by saying:
I learned a lot again, because I hadn’t experienced conditions these in testing. There was quite a lot of ice, a few damp patches, some snow here and there and the racing line became dirtier as more cars completed their runs… It was interesting and useful to work on our set-up with regards to the race.
Kris Meeke in the C3 ended the shakedown in 20th place with a time of 2:38.0 and speaking following the stage he commented by saying:
The shakedown wasn’t very interesting because of our tyre choice. There was no chance of going for performance on slicks in these conditions. But we were able to make sure that the car was working properly. Tomorrow, it will be a whole new ball game with the leg between Monaco and Gap. I’m expecting it to be a tricky start to the rally, but I’m really looking forward to it!
Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton commented by saying:
Since the result of the shakedown has no impact on the rally itself, we decided to conserve our allocation of studded tyres. The drivers didn’t have an easy job, because they had to cope with icy sections without damaging the cars. Mission accomplished for us and there are a number of positives we can take away from this shakedown.