Citroën Racing has put an end to speculation surrounding a possible exit from WRC by committing to a long-term programme in the world’s premier rallying series from 2017. Team bosses at the eight-time championship winning team will pool all available resources into developing a WRC new car in line with far-reaching new rules due for introduction two years’ time.
Additionally, team Principle Yves Matton also confirmed that the French marque will be taking a sabbatical from WRC in 2016 and not field a works team at any of next year’s 14 rounds.
Meanwhile, Citroën’s long-term committal to rallying activities signals the death knell for its participation in the World Touring Car Championship. Since its entry into the circuit racing format in 2014 the French outfit has dominated the category, claiming back to back world titles courtesy of its trio of drivers José María López, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb. 2016 will mark the final chapter in the Citroën WTCC story as attention shifts away from the circuit and definitively back to the world of rallying.
We’ve known for some time now that Citroën Racing had planned to wield the axe over one of its two principle motor racing arms. However, radical 2017 regulation changes, which promise the introduction of more powerful, more aerodynamic and more visually imposing World Rally Cars, plus the lure of increasingly widespread live television coverage and the arrival of China on the calendar in 2016, eventually tipped the scales in the Citroën World Rally Team’s favour.
Nevertheless, Matton also hinted that a cross-category project could be in the offing. This could potentially see some of the underpinnings of the engine that powered the C-Elysée to back-to-back WTCC titles carried over into Citroën’s 2017 WRC challenger.
“We have always been interested in the 2017 WRC regulations and the entire team is extremely motivated by this new challenge. 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.”
However, the team’s decision to put championship activities on hold for the 2016 campaign casts the positions of Citroën’s current WRC driver pairing of Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke into doubt. Both are understood to be under consideration for future roles within the French outfit although neither has yet been offered new a contract.