One month before the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship gets underway at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, Citroën Racing officially unveils its C3 WRC in Abu Dhabi.Complying with the new FIA regulations, which see the introduction of a new generation of very spectacular World Rally Cars, the C3 WRC heralds the return of Citroën as a works team in a discipline in which the Brand holds a record 96 race wins and eight world titles.In the 2017 season, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT will enter two to four C3 WRCs for its crews: Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle, Craig Breen/Scott Martin, Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau and Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi/Chris Patterson.
Since it was founded in 1919, Citroën has always impressed with its capacity to tackle and pull off bold, sporting challenges. In the 1950s, the Brand's models claimed its first major victories in rallying. However, it wasn’t until the start of the 1980s that the contemporary period truly began. Whilst never achieving the success they deserved, the Visa 1000 Pistes and the BX 4TC – both compliant with the famous Group B regulations – ensured rallying became hard-wired in Citroën's DNA.
Kings of the desert
In 1989, the former racing department was renamed Citroën Sport and took up a sizeable challenge: win the Paris-Dakar Rally. The brand enjoyed success right from the word go, on its first attempt. Ari Vatanen won the 1991 rally. Three further victories, secured by Pierre Lartigue, would follow in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Kings of the desert, the ZX Grand Raids won 36 out of their 42 races, and were five-time winners of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup.
The road to the WRC
The outline of a WRC programme began to take shape. In the Xsara Kit-Car, Philippe Bugalski beat a host of World Rally Cars to win the 1999 Rally Catalunya and Tour de Corse! The 'Red Army' decided to move up a gear and the new Xsara WRC won the 2001 Tour de Corse driven by Jesus Puras. After spending the 2002 season preparing its entry, Citroën began its first full campaign in 2003.
The team made an incredible start, with a one-two-three for Loeb, McRae and Sainz at the Rallye Monte-Carlo. Citroën won its first Manufacturers' World Championship at the end of the season, successfully efending the title for the next two years. At the same time, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena began their incredible series of nine consecutive world titles in 2004.
At the end of the 2005 season, Citroën decided to put its sporting commitment on hold for a year, whilst it developed the C4 WRC. This new car would enable the Brand to add another three titles to its ompetitive record between 2008 and 2010. 2011 saw the introduction of a new generation of World Rally Cars. The DS 3 was chosen to keep the winning run going… and it did just that with style to spare: two more Manufacturers' titles were added in 2011 and 2012.
Off on another world tour
Whilst continuing to compete in the WRC, with reduced ambitions, Citroën Racing took up a new challenge when it decided to enter the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC). Once again, the brand was incredibly successful. In the space of three years, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs won 50 races from 69 starts. Citroën and José María López therefore won three consecutive world titles…
After this short interlude on the track, Citroën has decided to return to the WRC with the New C3, symbol of the brand's commercial offensive. A new chapter in this amazing story is about to begin…