Just a few days after the Citroen C3 WRC concept car was unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, Citroen Racing has announced the crews that will be competing for the team in the next two seasons of the FIA World Rally Championship. It is dominated by a total of four drivers and co-drivers from Ireland.
Already confirmed to drive for the team until 2018, were Irish pair Kris Meeke/ Paul Nagle. They will be joined by Craig Breen/ Scott Martin and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau. Chairman of Abu Dhabi Racing, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will also be competing with his co-driver (and another Irishman) Chris Patterson at some events in 2017.
Citroen Racing continues to assemble the necessary ingredients for its return, as a works team, to the FIA World Rally Championship. Since April, the Citroen C3 WRC has completed seven development tests, both on gravel and tarmac, and is now very close to the final version.
Until 16 October, visitors to the Paris Motor Show can admire the Citroen C3 WRC concept car that heralds the new generation of World Rally Cars, which are set to make their competitive debut at the 2017 Rallye Monte-Carlo.
By announcing their driver and co-driver line-up now for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Citroen Racing takes another important step forward, one which has been highly anticipated by many WRC fans.
After confirming Irishmen Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle at the end of last year, the line-up is now completed by two crews considered to be among the most promising young talents in the WRC. Having come to prominence through the PSA Group’s rally programmes, and competing this season for the Abu Dhabi Total WRT, Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau have convinced Citroen to put their faith in young drivers.
This is very much in line with Citroen’s long-term philosophy of identifying and developing young and highly talented rally drivers. In the last 15 years or more, Citroen has identified some of the best in the business: Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier, Dani Sordo, Thierry Neuville, Eric Camilli and County Tyrone’s Kris Meeke. County Waterford’s Breen and Lefebvre are destined to add their names to this illustrious list.
At the start of the 2017 season, the team will enter two Citroen C3 WRCs: one for Kris Meeke (and his County Kerry co-driver Paul Nagle), and the other for either Ireland’s Craig Breen or Stéphane Lefebvre, who will alternate driving duties. The exact allocation of events to drivers will be announced at a later stage and Citroen will start entering three cars as soon as possible. The FIA’s World Motorsport Council recently decided it would let manufacturers enter three cars, the top two scoring points towards the Manufacturers’ World Championship.
At some rounds of the 2017 WRC, a fourth Citroen C3 WRC will also be entered for Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi and County Antrim’s Chris Patterson.
Already involved in the development of the Citroen C3 WRC, Kris Meeke, Craig Breen, Stéphane Lefebvre and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi will continue with testing until the new car completes homologation. At the same time, they will be competing at this year’s Rally de España (Meeke, Breen, Al Qassimi) and Wales Rally GB (Meeke, Breen, Lefebvre) in order to acquire experience driving the current cars.