Category Archives: WRC

THE C3 WRC SECURES ITS SIXTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH AS RUNNERS-UP!

Once again among the leaders on their debut outing in Chile, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia continued their impressive series of podiums to finish as runners-up after an incredibly intense battle in their C3 WRC, following the improvements made to the car by Citroën Total World Rally Team since Argentina. This result sees them reclaim the championship lead. Increasingly comfortable as the rally progressed, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm ended sixth overall, completing a fine all-round performance by the team.

With more narrow and fast stages to experience for the first time at full pace, today’s final leg was not short on difficulties, but it was made even more taxing by the fine drizzle that had fallen overnight, leaving roads significantly damp. In these testing conditions, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia saw the third-placed crew trim their advantage to just 1.1s on the opening stage. The six-time world champions then produced the kind of performance of which they alone are capable. They pushed throughout the full 18.06 kilometres of Lircay, the rally’s narrowest stage, to claim their second stage win of the weekend, 4.2s ahead of their rival for second place. The French crew then managed the gap to the end, finishing second overall and thus securing their fifth podium in six rounds, following wins at Monte-Carlo and in Mexico, second place in Corsica and third in Argentina.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia also collected four bonus points in the Power Stage, meaning they head back to Europe from Chile with a ten-point lead in the championship standings. This sixth podium finish in as many rounds this season, combined with the sixth position of Lappi-Ferm, also means the Citroën Total World Rally Team stays within touch of second place in the manufacturers’ standings.

On stages in the wooded sections, left damp by rain before the start, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately settled into second position on day one. And although the morning of day two proved more difficult, they were able – in conjunction with the team – to respond perfectly in the afternoon loop, grabbing a stage win and a third fastest time on their way to doubling their advantage over the third-placed crew. Unfortunately, they were hampered by the late arrival of fog and rain on the final stage of the day, allowing their rivals back into the mix ahead of the short final leg.

After a cautious, focused start to the race, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had closed to within 10.3s of fifth place with the third fastest time on yesterday’s final stage. They confirmed their growing confidence and improved form today, grabbing a fifth and a fourth fastest time. Their splits on the Power Stage were also very promising until a minor error dashed their hopes of any bonus points. They nonetheless finished sixth overall. They can take heart from an encouraging result, one which they will hope to build on, so they can start the next round in Portugal in the better shape.

Engaged in a close fight for the WRC2 Pro class win until a minor brake issue cost them time on Saturday morning’s loop, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen had to settle for second place in the end. The Norwegians nonetheless claimed twelve stage wins out a total of sixteen, demonstrating the competitiveness of the C3 R5 once again.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “This podium further confirms our very good start to the season. We have been very consistent and the points are good for the championship. It wasn’t an easy weekend, however, even though things moved in the right direction after Saturday’s mid-leg service. We got the best out of the C3 WRC once again. We now need to develop the car even more so that we can be more competitive in low-grip situations.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “We had a difficult start, but we managed to make progress bit by bit. We also managed to improve the set-up of the C3 WRC with the team and our pace started to be pretty decent today. I really hope that we can keep going forward like this in our forthcoming tests. In any case, it ended up being a positive weekend in terms of my confidence.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What is your assessment of this sixth round?
Clearly, it was a positive weekend, with the fine second place secured by Sébastien and Julien. They produced another attacking performance, on these totally new stages, which needed quite a bit of getting used to. Their perseverance was rewarded with a good result that sees them back at the top of the standings. The other cause for satisfaction is the feeling that Esapekka and Janne have found again. They put together a smart, mature performance to finish the race, after gradually building their pace. It certainly augurs well for the rest of the year, especially as we now start a run of events that they know better. I think we also showed that we were able to react and introduce a few minor upgrades, which worked, in the fairly narrow window available between Argentina and Chile. Having said that, we are fully aware that these changes are not enough as yet to fight with the fastest crews in all conditions, and we are going to step up our efforts in order to keep improving.

What did you think of this first edition of Rally Chile in the WRC?
I think the event has been a successful addition to the championship! Having driven on the stages in recce, I have to say they really are very attractive. The roads are fast, undulating but also highly varied. We have also been very warmly welcomed by the local fans. They were especially noisy and enthusiastic at the ceremonial start and at the finish, but were also out in big numbers on the stages and in the service park.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

In finishing 4.2s ahead and all but securing second place on Sunday morning on Lircay (SS14), the narrowest stage of the rally, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia once again showed their ability to take incredibly precise pace notes, as well as their talent for striking at just the right moment. The number 1 C3 WRC driver explained…
“Obviously, with Julien, we give our all on every stage, that goes without saying. Although we’re not always able to compete with the fastest crews on technical stages and in low-grip conditions, I knew that SS14 and SS15 were the kind of stages that suited us best. They were fast – in fact, the average speeds were above 100kph for the first time this weekend – and we know that the C3 WRC performs well in conditions like this so we couldn’t afford to miss this opportunity! Especially as we had just dropped four seconds on the opening stage of the day. We had to hit back and that’s exactly what we did.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 3:15:53.8
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +23.1
3. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +30.2
4. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:36.7
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:15.6
6. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +3:45.4
7. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +4:39.0
8. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) + 7:33.4
9. Rovanperä / Halttunen (Skoda Fabia R5) + 7:52.5
10.Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +8:16.1

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Sébastien Ogier – 122 points
2. Ott Tänak – 112 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
4. Kris Meeke – 59 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 55 points
6. Sébastien Loeb – 39 points
7. Andreas Mikkelsen – 36 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 34 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 32 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 30 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 178 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 149 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 143 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 100 points

A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM FOR THE C3 WRC AS OGIERINGRASSIA FINISH THIRD IN ARGENTINA!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced another heroic performance to claim their fourth podium of the season and Citroën Total World Rally Team’s fifth in 2019, after a nail-biting finish on the final stage!

After a ten-second penalty was handed to their direct rivals for the final podium place by the rally organisers late last night for failing to follow the racing route on one of Saturday’s stages, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia went into today’s final leg in third position. They held a slim 6.0s lead as they prepared to tackle the very rough stages of El Condor and Giulio Cesare. Displaying their famous neversay-die attitude, the six-time world champions put up a determined fight in the C3 WRC, whilst not forgetting the importance of ensuring they secured big points for the championship. Their efforts were rewarded in the end: victory on the Power Stage, their third stage win of the weekend, saw them hang onto the final podium spot by just 1.4s!

Sébastien and Julien’s third position, combined with the five bonus points earned on the Power Stage, means they consolidated their hold on second place in the world championship, ten points behind the leaders. This is their fourth podium this year, after winning in Monte-Carlo and Mexico, and finishing as runners-up in Corsica. It is also the fifth time in as many events this season that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished in the top three.

Despite the difficult, changeable grip conditions, particularly on the opening day after the heavy rain that fell prior to the event, the French crew made an excellent start, consistently among the frontrunners to end the leg second overall, just 11.9s behind the leaders. Day two proved to be trickier. Confused about which route to take on the morning loop (SS11) by a gate left open – whereas the roadbook indicated it was meant to be closed – Sébastien and Julien hesitated and ended up damaging the power steering of their C3 WRC when they hit the gate. They therefore dropped back to sixth position, 21.8s adrift of the podium. They then fought back like the champions they are on the second loop, claiming two stage wins on their way to fourth overall, keeping them in with a good chance of finishing on the podium going into the final day.

After making a decent start with a fifth fastest time on the rally’s first proper stage (SS2), Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm were unfortunately then held up by a puncture immediately afterwards (SS4) when they hit a bank following a crest. The Finnish pair were gradually upping their pace on what was only their second appearance in Argentina – as could be seen in their promising split times – when a tyre came loose following a puncture, rolling the car (SS8) and forcing them to retire from the rally on the opening leg.

Competing in the WRC2 Pro class in a C3 R5, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen claimed their second consecutive category win after Rally Sweden, whilst also amassing a handsome tally of ten stage wins from the overall total of seventeen contested. Yet further evidence of the competitiveness of Citroën Racing’s flagship customer racing product on the very demanding Argentinian roads, where the C3 R5 was competing for the first time.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver “It’s a pretty good result in terms of points, but we can’t be pleased with our out-and-out performance level. There are some conditions, like those we saw in Mexico or here on the second runs, where we are fairly competitive. But we have to improve when there is less grip or when the road is more technical. I’m pleased to see our persistence rewarded, because once again this weekend we pushed as hard as possible right to the end.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver “Despite not knowing the roads here particularly well, I was obviously hoping for a better outcome from this round. But after we had picked up a puncture, I was caught out when the tyre suddenly came loose. Thiscaused the car to understeer, we hit a bank at the side of the road and rolled the car. Obviously, I’m sorry for the team, but after a few days’ rest with my family, Janne and I will back raring to go and have the best Rally Chile possible, where we’ll all be on an equal footing in terms of experience.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How do you assess your performance in Argentina?

It was clearly a tough weekend, one that we can’t be satisfied with. The points for third place and from the Power Stage are fairly positive as regards the championship, but we lacked pace on these roads. The result is down in large part to Sébastien and Julien’s relentless commitment and persistence. Meanwhile, Esapekka and Janne deserved at least to make it to the end of the rally, in order to keep adding to their experience. Perhaps in future they will need to manage a puncture differently, but we are still 200% behind them so that they can finally get back on the right track in Chile.

How are you intending to tackle the transition to Rally Chile?

First of all, we’ll be shipping the backup C3 WRC out to Chile for Esapekka and Janne, so that they will have a completely new car for the event. Although we have relatively little time, we are also going to get to work on improving the C3 WRC as much as possible in clearly identified conditions, and define the best set-up for the rally. It’s a new event for everyone, and will also be fairly different to what we experienced this weekend. In any case, we are all fired up to keep fighting as hard as possible for the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Jean-Luc Gaucher, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s Chief mechanic, was the man in charge of coordinating Saturday’s mid-leg service, during which the Citroën mechanics repaired the stricken number 1 C3 WRC. He told us about how they took just forty minutes to repair the car’s power steering, broken by the French crew in a minor impact.

“Actually, we had a whole load of parts to replace. The entire power steering, of course, but also the gearbox, the hydraulic unit and the clutch. Generally speaking, these sorts of repairs need careful planning beforehand, so that everyone knows precisely what order to do things in and so that everything goes smoothly once you get started. Given that we only had one car left in the race at that point, we could have all eight of our mechanics involved, but on the other hand, we were limited by the physical space to four people working on the front on the car, in the critical area. Although we train for this kind of situation, it’s always satisfying to see things work out when it’s for real. It was important to get the car working again as quickly as possible, because when you work on the hydraulics, the start-up procedure takes quite a bit of time, but that’s precisely what we managed to do. After a long, difficult service like this, there’s always a niggling fear that you might have missed something, so it was nice – and reassuring – for all of us to see Sébastien and Julien grab two consecutive stage wins straight afterwards!”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3:20:54.6
2. Mikkelsen / Jaeger (Hyundai i20 WRC) +48.4
3. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +1:04.8
4. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:06.2
5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:21.1
6. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:26.7
7. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +4:57.3
8. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +14:24.8
9. Østberg / Eriksen (Citroën C3 R5) +14:28.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Thierry Neuville – 110 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 100 points
3. Ott Tänak – 82 points 4. Kris Meeke – 54 points
5. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
6. Andreas Mikkelsen – 30 points
7. Jari-Matti Latvala – 28 points
8. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
9. Dani Sordo – 26 points
10. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 157 points
2. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 120 points
3. Citroën Total WRT – 117 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 78 points

A FOURTH CONSECUTIVE PODIUM FOR THE C3 WRC AS OGIER-INGRASSIA FINISH AS RUNNERS-UP IN CORSICA!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s stubborn, never-say-die attitude helped them secure their third podium of season in Corsica and the fourth top-three finish in as many races this year for Citroën Total World Rally Team. Their hard-earned second place took them to within two points of the top of the drivers’ world championship.Meanwhile, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm finished seventh overall, both helping to consolidate Citroën’s second place in the manufacturers’ standings and racking up important miles in the C3 WRC at an all-asphalt event.

Beginning the day with just a 5.1s lead over their closest challengers, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia immediately secured third place by extending their advantage to almost thirty seconds by the end of SS13, the first and longest stage (31.85km) of the day. On the Power Stage, contested in the idyllic setting of Fango valley, with the crystal blue water of the Mediterranean forming a magnificent backdrop, the French crew once again showcased their fighting spirit to grab the fifth fastest time and collect a bonus point, whilst an unexpected final-stage incident resulted in them being promoted to second position. They therefore closed to within just two points of the world championship leader, meaning they won’t be opening the road at the next round of the WRC, in Argentina (25-28 April). 

Having struggled with some set-up issues on the opening leg, and unable to make proper corrections due to there being no mid-leg service, the six-time world champions made the best of the situation by ending the day sixth overall, just 10.2s adrift of fourth place. They then produced a heroic effort the next day on both runs on the brand new Castagniccia stage. They used all of their attacking instincts on the dirty, worn roads and their ability to have good pace notes for the first pass at full speed, managing to grab the third fastest time on the first run and then the second fastest time on the repeat. These two performances in particular enabled them to move onto the podium with just the short final stage to go.

In finishing as runners-up in the C3 WRC, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia claimed their third podium this year from four races. Citroën Total World Rally Team has now finished on one of the top two steps of the podium in all four events this season, with wins at Monte-Carlo and Mexico (Ogier-Ingrassia), and second places in Sweden (Lappi-Ferm) and Corsica. The Satory team has thus consolidated its second place in the manufacturers’ world championship standings. 

Also struggling with the set-up of their C3 WRC, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly found themselves in a situation where their hopes of making up ground were remote. They therefore decided to use the remaining kilometres to run through a range of set-up options on the C3 WRC and add to their experience in the car on tarmac. Their persistence was nonetheless rewarded with a seventh place finish, which also provided a worthwhile contribution to the overall team result.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“In terms of points, it’s a good result, scoring nineteen points at a difficult round. On the other hand, we really suffered in terms of pure performance. We need to understand why, so that we don’t have the same problem again on this surface, on which the C3 WRC had performed well previously. In any case, I’m pleased to have managed to get the most out of the car I had and also that I don’t have to open the road on gravel in Argentina.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“We all had high hopes coming into this round, so obviously we can’t be satisfied with this result. We were short on performance and suffered quite a lot of understeer throughout the weekend. We’re going to work hard to put things right for the next rounds on tarmac, in Germany and then in Spain. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to getting back on gravel in Argentina.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How would you assess this Tour de Corse?

In terms of points, it was a good result, as we have consolidated second position in the standings for both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships. However, obviously, we can’t be satisfied with our performance level this weekend. We were missing something, somewhere, throughout the weekend. We’ll now analyse everything in detail so that we get to the bottom of this drop in form and ensure we return to the level of competitiveness we had previously on tarmac at the rounds in Germany and Spain. I would nonetheless like to pay tribute to the reaction of my team in this difficult situation. They never let up, working hard to try and find every possible solution for our crews. We improved during the weekend and it’s by maintaining this attitude that we’ll keep making progress and coming back even stronger. 

How would you describe the performance of your crews?

The sign of a true champion is managing to produce performances even when some of the ingredients you need to be competitive are missing. Securing a result like this at a difficult weekend is how you win championships and Sébastien and Julien know this all too well. Once again, they showed their remarkable ability and never-say-die attitude. This podium is above all down to them. They really nailed it with their performances on Castagniccia, whilst remaining incredibly consistent on the other stages. Esapekka and Janne have nothing to be ashamed of either, but for the time being they just lack experience in this kind of situation. I’m convinced, however, that as soon as we give them a good car, they will start producing the kind of speed that we know that they are capable of. 

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Former WRC driver and safety crew driver for Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, Simon Jean-Joseph looked back at the French crew’s performances on the two runs on the Castagniccia stage during Saturday’s leg.

“For us, as safety crew, the two runs on Castagniccia were really the only two tests this weekend where we had quite a lot of corrections to make. Apart from their obvious talent, combined with the fighting spirit and determination of Seb and Julien, I think one of their real strengths comes from their incredibly precise system of pace notes. In dirty and tricky conditions like these, they have very subtle variations in describing the road, which gives them a sense of security and enables them to show off their full potential. For the safety crews, it’s then a question of having a good feeling for things, adding corrections in the right place without overloading the notes. But it’s then a real feat for Julien to manage to convey all the subtle differences, given the speed at which they run through the stages, and for Seb to manage to take it all in.” 

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) 3h22’59’’0
2. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +40’’3
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1’06’’6
4. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1’18’’4
5. Suninen / Salminen (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1’24’’6
6. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1’40’’0
7. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +2’09’’1
8. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +3’39’’2
9. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5’06’’3
10. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6’44’’6

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Thierry Neuville – 82 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 80 points
3. Ott Tänak – 77 points
4. Elfyn Evans – 43 points
5. Kris Meeke – 42 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 26 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 22 points
8. Dani Sordo – 16 points
9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 15 points
10. Teemu Suninen – 14 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Hyundai WRT – 114 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 102 points
3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 98 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 70 points

C3 WRC SETS SAIL FOR CORSICA

62nd Tour de Corse (28-31 March) – Preview

The first rally to be contested on clean tarmac this season, round four of the 2019 WRC is also Citroën Total World Rally Team’s home event. Hopes are therefore high for the French outfit’s crews, Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, especially as the major changes made to the route may well suit them.

Having won last year’s rally after leading from start to finish, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia spearhead the challenge of the Citroën Total World Rally Team on the Mediterranean island this season with the firm intention of claiming a third win in four races, following victories in Monte-Carlo and Mexico. The French crew, who also won the 2016 Tour de Corse on a route that had already undergone substantial changes, have shown in the past their ability to take good pace notes on the two runs allowed in recce, before then really going for it on the increasingly wide roads used on the island rally. Sunday’s leg in Monte-Carlo, contested on dry tarmac, equally confirmed that they were full of confidence when driving the C3 WRC on this surface.

Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm also stood out at the 2017 Tour de Corse, finishing as top performers with four stage wins (one tied), including the Power Stage, as the battle among the championship contenders for bonus points raged around them. They were even in contention for third place before a puncture put paid to their challenge on the penultimate stage. So the young Finnish driver comes into this round with genuine hopes of a strong result on a surface where he feels particularly at home, having competed in karting races between the ages of six and sixteen.

Long-time leader in 2017 and winner of three stages during last year’s rally, the C3 WRC has always been very competitive at this round, where its celebrated predecessors (Xsara Kit-Car, Xsara WRC and C4 WRC) have won the event a total of six times in the past. The new Citroën crews each had two days of testing in the car on the Corsican roads last week to review and fine-tune the set-up options.

REACTIONS FROM…

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal

“Obviously, the French round of the WRC is a special event for us and in front of our home crowd, we’re determined to finish on the podium for the fourth time in as many races. Nevertheless, we know just how unforgiving these roads can be, especially as this year’s itinerary focuses on endurance. And at this time of year, the weather can also be fairly unpredictable. In any case, Sébastien and Esapekka have both shown undeniable speed on these types of road, as has the C3 WRC, and preparations in Corsica last week mean that we come into the rally in good shape.”

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“The route has been changed quite a lot again this year, but that has already happened before here, which has meant that I have often had to get to grips with new stages and that tends to suit me. It adds a bit of stress and adrenaline to the race, and it can lead to there being bigger gaps than usual. When the stages are new for everyone, obviously the difference comes from who does a very good job during recce and then has sufficient confidence in their pace notes to push right from the word go. We also know about the qualities of the C3 WRC on tarmac. Our pre-event testing was really productive and the feeling was good in the car. Clearly, I’m also very keen to do well at our home round of the WRC and keep our good run of form going.”

Number of appearances at the event: 5
Number of wins: 2 (2016 and 2018)


Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“I have always really enjoyed this rally and I can’t wait to get started. I love driving on clean tarmac like here or in Catalonia. The challenge will be to take good pace notes from the word go. I think pace notes are even more important on asphalt than on gravel in order to get the line right and to know what speed you can carry through corners. With the revised itinerary, we’ll all be in the same boat as regards familiarity with the stages. Although it won’t be easy, it’s an opportunity for us, since we generally have a bit less knowledge of the roads on the other rallies. In any case, our tests went well and I feel confident. I hope I can be at least as competitive as last year.”

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 6th (2018)

KEY FIGURES

14 timed stages covering a total of 347.51 km
133.34 :the number of kilometres this year where crews will need to take new pace notes
47.18 km for Castigniccia, the weekend’s longest stage, held twice on Saturday’s leg
6 overall wins secured by Citroën at the Tour de Corse in the WRC: 1 with Xsara Kit-Car (1999), 3 with Xsara WRC (2001, 2005 and 2006), 2 with C4 WRC (2007 and 2008)
2: for the second year running, Citroën France is the lead official partner of the Tour de Corse.

TOUR DE CORSE SCHEDULE
(GMT+1 until 30/03, GMT+2 from 31/03)

With the opening leg taking the crews from Porto-Vecchio to Propriano, then heading north on day two towards Castagniccia, Cap Corse and the Désert des Agriates, before finishing next to Calvi, this year’s edition of the classic island rally remains faithful to the recently-restored tradition of touring the whole of Corsica.

In addition to the various regions covered, the 2019 Tour de Corse has plenty of other ingredients to make it a serious test. The total competitive distance is now close to 350km (compared with 333.48km in 2018), Friday’s leg only has a tyre-fitting zone at the midway point, Saturday features some 174.50km with two runs on the 47.18km-long and especially demanding Castagniccia stage, all rounded off with a longer Power Stage (19.34km) than usual, set against the magnificent backdrop of the Fango valley.

The other major difficulty stems from the fact that more than 62% of the itinerary has been revamped. Of the fourteen stages, only three – Valinco (SS2/SS5, 25.94km), last contested in 2015 , Cap Corse (SS7/SS10, 25.62km) and Désert des Agriates (SS8/SS11,14.45km), both contested last year –  are familiar to the current crop of world championship crews. This makes it all the more important for them to get to grips with and take good paces notes on the 133.34 new kilometres in just two passes during recce at a limited maximum speed (80kph). Recce looks set to be every more crucial than usual and will call for unremitting concentration throughout.

THURSDAY 28 MARCH

9.00am: Shakedown (Sorbo Ocagnano)

FRIDAY 29 MARCH

7.00am: Start Day 1 (Porto-Vecchio)
7.05am: Tyre fitting zone (Porto-Vecchio – 15 mins)
8.29am: SS 1 – Bavella 1 (17,60 km)
9.24am: SS 2 – Valinco 1 (25,94 km)
10.32am: SS 3 – Alta-Rocca 1 (17,37 km)
12.41pm: Tyre fitting zone (Porto-Vecchio – 15 mins)
2.05pm: SS 4 – Bavella 2 (17,60 km)
3.00pm: SS 5 – Valinco 2 (25,94 km)
4.08pm: SS 6 – Alta-Rocca 2 (17,37 km)
7.38pm: Flexi service A (Bastia airport– 45 mins)

SATURDAY 30 MARCH

6.05am: Start Day 2 & service B (Bastia airport – 15 mins)
7.38am: SS 7 – Cap Corse 1 (25,62 km)
9.08am: SS 8 – Désert des Agriates 1 (14,45 km)
10.14am: SS 9 – Castagniccia 1 (47,18 km)
12.32pm: Service C (Bastia airport – 40 mins)
2.38pm: SS 10 – Cap Corse 2 (25,62 km)
4.08pm: SS 11 – Désert des Agriates 2 (14,45 km)
5.14pm: SS 12 – Castagniccia 2 (47,18 km)
6.34pm: Flexi service D (Bastia airport – 45 mins)
8.24pm: Parc ferme (Place Saint Nicolas – Bastia)

SUNDAY 31 MARCH

7.30am: Parc ferme out (Place Saint Nicolas – Bastia)
8.10am: Service E (Bastia airport – 15 mins)
9.45am: SS 13 – Eaux de Zilia (31,85 km)
12.18pm: SS 14 – Calvi Power Stage (19,34 km)
1.18pm: Finish (Citadelle de Calvi)
3.00pm: Podium (Citadelle de Calvi)


Citroën secures its second win of the season with Ogier-Ingrassia!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced an incredibly calm and collected performance on Sunday’s final leg to claim their second win from three events in 2019, the C3 WRC retaining its record of finishing on the podium at every round since the start of the season in Monte-Carlo! Citroën Racing thus extended the record it holds for the most wins at Rally Mexico to eight.

Starting the day with a 27.0s lead over the second-placed crew, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia held their nerve despite the pressure applied by those behind. The pair’s controlled final day performance saw them secure victory with an extended winning margin after the final sixty or so final kilometres. They also collected five bonus points on the Power Stage with a seventh stage win, making them the weekend’s top performers. It was an excellent weekend in terms of points, as they climbed to second place in the world championship, just four points behind the leader. 

The six-time world champions had taken the lead on the second pass on El Chocolate (31.57km), the most technical stage on day one, before finishing the first leg with four stage wins and overall lead of 14.8s, despite running third on the road. Although they were briefly unseated from top spot the next day when SS10 was red flagged and they were awarded a notional time that took account of the slow puncture collected during the stage, the French pair – despite no longer having a spare tyre – went back on the attack and managed to retake the lead on the next test, Otates, with the second fastest time just 1.2s off the pace. They then went one better, finishing first on the final stage of the morning loop. The afternoon saw them claim their sixth stage win of the weekend, despite the handicap of being the only crew to carry two spares. Their performance enabled them to build up a substantial lead, allowing them to manage the final leg with the kind of control they are famous for.

Eleven years after making their world championship debut here in a Citroën C2 Super 1600, Sébastien and Julien completed their fifth win in Mexico, after those secured in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018. It’s also their second win of the season, after Monte-Carlo, and the third time in as many rounds in 2019 that Citroën Total World Rally Team has finished on one of the top two steps of the podium. Confirmation, if any was needed, of its competitiveness. 

In taking the honours for the second time in Central America after its maiden win in 2017, the C3 WRC has also made it mark at this event, despite its reputation as a particularly demanding rally due to the high temperatures and extreme altitudes, whilst Citroën Racing extended its record at this round to eight wins.

On only their second appearance in Mexico, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm quickly showed their undeniable potential. With a fourth fastest time, 6.2s behind their team-mates on El Chocolate (31.57km), and then a second fastest time (SS7), a mere two tenths off the stage-winning time on Friday afternoon, they ended the opening leg in a promising fifth position, just 2s behind fourth place. The pace set at the start of the next day confirmed that they were at one with their C3 WRC, but unfortunately a sudden change in grip caught them out and left them stranded by the side of the road. The final leg, during which they were first on the road, provided them with an opportunity to add to their experience, whilst preparing for the next few events on gravel. The point scored on the Power Stage, somewhat against the odds and as the championship contenders also battled for bonus points, served as a timely reminded that they will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season!

RÉACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Mexico is definitely a special place for me and I’m especially pleased to secure this fifth win here and take maximum points for the championship! That was what we came for, and although it wasn’t a trouble-free weekend, we managed it well from start to finish. The potential I saw in the C3 WRC continues to be borne out. It enabled us to be top performers this weekend. It’s now up to us to keep working hard because the championship looks set to be even closer than ever before. In the meantime, I would like to thank the team for the great job done this weekend! We’ll now head for Corsica looking for a similar outcome.”

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“I’m pleased to have learned how to drive on this specific surface with my C3 WRC and to have equally made progress in understanding the tyre strategy for these stages. We’re now going to concentrate on the Tour de Corse, with the intention of getting back among the frontrunners.”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What can you say about Citroën Racing’s eighth win in Mexico, and the second this season?
We’re delighted with it, because it is the result of an excellent team effort! Winning here is no easy feat. The combination of high altitude and hot temperatures make it the ultimate challenge for man and machine alike. But everyone was on the ball throughout the weekend and this win is just deserts for our hard work. This event remains unusual, but it’s also always positive to win the championship’s first round on gravel because it’s the surface on which the majority of the rallies are held and although we can’t afford to rest on our laurels, it is confirmation that we are right in the mix with the C3 WRC. Three podiums in as many races – we really couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the season with our two new crews. Obviously, all of this wouldn’t have been possible without a magnificent performance by Sébastien and Julien. Every day, they showed off their full array of qualities: speed, race craft, ability to react and management skills too. We knew it already, but they really do have it all!

What did you make of Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm’s race?
They made a minor error that proved very costly, but I prefer to focus on the way in which they got to grips with the difficulties of the Mexican roads. They haven’t fully mastered them yet, but they gradually upped their game and managed to set a very respectable pace. They had a very good feeling in the C3 WRC on gravel and that augurs well for the rest of the championship.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND

Thomas Breton, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia’s race engineer, looks back on the opening leg of the rally, perfectly negotiated by his crew.

“They really impressed me on Friday. Obviously, our road position was better than that of Tänak and Neuville, but there were others who tackled the stages on even cleaner roads. It’s also true that these sorts of conditions are always difficult to work on and reproduce in testing. We gave them an easy car to drive and they made very good use of it! They have this incredible ability to adapt their rhythm to the circumstances, to push a bit more whenever it’s necessary and to control their pace when it’s not the right moment to take any unnecessary risks.”

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:37:08.0
2. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +30.2
3. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +49.9
4. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:27.0
5. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +6:06.2
6. Guerra / Zapata (Skoda Fabia R5) +15:35.5
7. Bulacia Wilkinson / Cretu (Skoda Fabia R5) +18:51.5
8. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +18:55.9
9. Sordo / Del Barrio (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 22:44.1
14. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +1h03’40”5

DRIVER’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 65 points
2. Sébastien Ogier – 61 points
3. Thierry Neuville – 55 points
4. Kris Meeke – 35 points
5.Elfyn Evans – 28 points
6. Esapekka Lappi – 20 points
7. Sébastien Loeb – 18 points
8. Jari-Matti Latvala – 14 points
9. Andreas Mikkelsen – 12 points 

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 86 points
2. Citroën Total WRT – 78 points
3. Hyundai WRT – 77 points
4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 45 points

The Mexico notebook by… Sébastien Ogier

After coming onto the scene at a time when the French were often seen as tarmac specialists, the six-time world champion very quickly forged a reputation as an all-round driver. He answered a few question about his first experiences on gravel and his relationship with Rally Mexico.

When did you drive on gravel for the first time?

“In rallying, I think it was in the ‘Rallye Jeunes’ (Young Drivers) programme just before the start of the 2006 season, because at the time, the Peugeot 206 Cup started on gravel at the Terre de l’Auxerrois rally. Before that, when I was about eight years old, my dad got a hold of a little off-road go-kart and I had the chance to race in it on the Saint-Laurent-du-Cros track, not far from where we lived.”

What did you think of the feeling on this surface at the time?

“Well, it’s true that for many years, tarmac tended to be the preferred surface in France, but for as far as I’m concerned, the feeling on gravel came very quickly. I almost got used to it more quickly than tarmac. Perhaps it’s the sense of sliding, which is quite similar to skiing. In any case, I was lucky in that right from the start of my career I was able to compete in a mixed surface championship. It was the best thing that could have happened to me. Nowadays, there are fewer and fewer specialists on one surface or another. The Nordic drivers have become just as fast on tarmac, which also makes for even more competitive races, regardless of the rally.”

What is your best memory of Rally Mexico?

“Definitely the 2008 rally. It was my very first appearance in a WRC event and I ended up with a class win in the Junior world championship. Making your debut in this environment and it going so well straight away was like experiencing something of a waking dream!”

After hosting the ceremonial start in the centre of Mexico, on the famous Zócalo square in 2017, the organisation returned to the traditional start in Guanajuato last year. What do you think?

“It was an amazing, one-off experience to go to the centre of Mexico, even though it was a bit more complicated from a logistics point of view, but Guanajuato is a special place and one that we really enjoy coming back to every year. The atmosphere is truly unique and it’s the only ceremonial start where you get such huge, passionate crowds!”

What have you done with the cowboy boots usually given to the winner?

“I must admit that I haven’t worn them since the podium ceremony, other than on the motorbike to the airport immediately after winning last year ! But I have kept them as souvenirs, as I have kept all of my trophies. Funnily enough, the only exception to that is one from Rally Mexico, which was perhaps too beautiful and unfortunately went missing when travelling. I don’t as yet have a dedicated space for all these items in my home but it’s something I’m planning on doing at a later date. I hope to add a few more trophies to my collection, however, so I’m waiting to have a better idea of how much space I’ll need!”

CITROËN SECRETS

Spotted by Citroën during the 2007 season, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia joined the Junior World Championship a year later, after just two seasons in France. Julien recalls the crew’s first appearance in the WRC at the 2008 Rally Mexico:

“Emotionally, it really was something else to find ourselves on the other side of the world for our first international race! Especially as it is one of the most exotic, unusual rounds of the championship. So, I think it’s fair to say we were pretty stressed… Given the extensive support we had from Citroën and the FFSA, there was expectation and a bit of pressure on our shoulders. At the time, I only knew a few words in English and Seb knew even less. And we were also switching from a fairly basic 206 Cup to C2 Super 1600, which was a real racing car with a more powerful, expressive engine and a semi-automatic sequential gearbox. I can still see Seb on our first test run, forcing himself to get used to braking with his left foot, which was also completely new for him. In the end, it all worked out very well. We won the opening stage by quite a decent margin and went on to lead the race from start to finish. It was the perfect way to start our campaign. Obviously, we both have very fond memories of that weekend!”

Citroën secure second consecutive podium as Lappi-Ferm finish as runners-up!

A highly combative performance on Sunday’s final leg in their C3 WRC saw Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm hold off the attacks of their fiercely competitive rivals to secure second place overall, their first podium for Citroën Total World Rally Team. Recent winners of the Rallye Monte-Carlo, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia meanwhile used all of their talent and determination to grab two bonus points on the Power Stage, despite the disappointment of retiring earlier in the rally.

It seems that Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm really do feel at home on Sunday’s final leg at Rally Sweden! Like last year, the Finnish crew remained impressively relaxed throughout the final leg, this time securing a fine second place with control and authority. This runner-up spot was their first podium finish since joining Citroën. It was also their best result at this rally in only their third appearance here and took him up to fifth place in the championship standings.

After winning in Monte-Carlo, it’s also the second podium finish this season in as many events for Citroën Total World Rally Team, following a race during which the C3 WRC stood out for both its competitiveness (three stage wins) and its exemplary reliability.

Lappi’s highly promising performance on only his second competitive outing in the C3 WRC came following a race during which he gradually upped his pace. Fifth at the end of day one, including a spin that left him having to deal with a damaged aerodynamic package, Esapekka then upped his pace on Saturday’s leg. He gained three places, taking him into joint second position, before displaying even more convincing form today. Joint second this morning, with another driver just 2.3s behind, the 28 year-old driver landed a telling blow on the first pass on Likenäs (21.19km). On this ultra fast stage, on which you really need to be perfectly at one with your car, his third fastest time put paid to the threat posed by the first of his rivals whilst adding two tenths to his advantage over the second one. However, he was far from finished! On the second run on the stage, he finished within just six tenths of the stage-winning time to give him a 4.4s lead over the third-placed driver going into the Torsby Power Stage (8.93km). He held onto second overall on the final test, whilst also grabbing the final bonus point!

Despite the clear disadvantage of running first on the road, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia made a fine start to the rally, ending day one just outside the podium places (fifth overall, 14.4s off the pace). However, first to come up against the water-filled ruts left by the historic cars completing the stages between the morning and afternoon loops, the six-time world champions were unfortunately caught out on SS6.They became stuck in a snow bank and had to retire for the day. They rejoined on Saturday looking to run in-competition tests and work on the set-up of their C3 WRC. However, they refused to be discouraged and maintained their commitment, managing to claim three stage wins (SS10, SS11 and SS14). Focused today on trying to secure a few points on the Power Stage, they set the fourth fastest time to come away with two bonus points. Now lying third in the championship standings, they head for the next round knowing they will have a decent starting position in Mexico.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“Obviously, I had hoped for a better result, but it’s always difficult to do well when you open the road here. A lot of the crews hit the snow banks, including us. We were also a bit unlucky in that we got stuck in one of the rare spots where there were no spectators. We did our very best on the Power Stage, even though once again the conditions were far from ideal for us. I’m already focused on Mexico.“

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver

“I knew after testing that we had worked well and that was confirmed during this rally, which I really enjoy. The conditions this weekend were nonetheless quite a bit different so we gradually worked on improving the set-up of our C3 WRC, which helped us to feel increasingly confident in the car and to up our pace as we completed more of the stages. I’m delighted with this result. It kick starts our season and augurs really well for the rest of the year!”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

How would you describe the performance of Esapekka and Janne?

Surprising! Obviously, we knew that they were capable of producing performances like this one, but I think they impressed us again with their relaxed, controlled approach, gradually upping their rhythm after their spin on day one. Little by little, they pushed more without making any other mistakes. It’s really satisfying to see them obtain the second best result of their career WRC in only their second race in the C3 WRC, especially as they’re both really easy going and nice lads, with whom it is a huge pleasure to work.

Sébastien and Julien, on the other hand, were very unlucky…

We knew how tough it would be for them to open the road here, where grip levels on the stages tend to increase as more cars complete. Sure enough, that’s how it was working out, although they were doing very well up until they made their minor mistake. They nonetheless reacted well, refusing to be discouraged and working with the team on getting to know the C3 WRC. Indeed, their unwavering determination was rewarded on the Power Stage. Like Esapekka and Janne, they also proved – with three stage wins – that our car, having finished second here last year, is definitely at ease on these stages. And yet it is a tough event to get to grips with, given that we don’t race on ice and snow very often at all. We are encouraged to continue with our efforts and keep our good form going in Mexico, where we can expect the fight at the front to be at least as intense as it was here.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND, BY JANNE FERM

A key player in and first-hand witness of the improving form of Esapekka Lappi during the weekend, Janne Ferm told us all about today’s sprint finish!

“Throughout the weekend, the atmosphere in the cockpit of our C3 WRC was one of calm relaxation, concentration and determination, and this morning was no different! I was convinced that we were capable of finishing second, but I’m also too familiar with the world of rallying to know it’s never over until it’s over… We pushed all the way, tackling each stage in turn without getting ahead of ourselves. Each time we reached the end of the Likenas stage, even before I had seen the time, I was pleased because I felt that we had given everything and the times reflected that. It’s a test where you have to literally let it all go and I knew that Esapekka had been totally committed and pushed to the max!“ 

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) 2:47:30.0

2. Lappi / Ferm (Citroën C3 WRC) +53.7

3. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) + 56.7

4. Mikkelsen / Jaeger-Amland (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:05.4

5. Evans / Martin (Ford Fiesta WRC) +1:08.2

6. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +1:38.8

7. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:49.7

8. Tidemand / Floene (Ford Fiesta WRC) +3:37.7

      29. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) +24:19.0

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Ott Tänak – 47 points

2. Thierry Neuville – 40 points

3. Sébastien Ogier – 31 points

4. Kris Meeke – 21 points

5. Esapekka Lappi – 19 points

6. Sébastien Loeb – 18 points

7. Elfyn Evans – 13 points

8. Andreas Mikkelsen – 12 points

9. Jari-Matti Latvala – 10 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing – 58 points

2. Hyundai WRT – 57 points

3. Citroën Total WRT – 47 points

4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 30 points

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia secure historic 100th WRC win for Citroën!

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia produced a heroic effort in their C3 WRC on today’s final leg to win the Rallye Monte-Carlo by the narrowest margin in the history of the event. A winning margin that reflected the intensity of the fight and the performance delivered, a performance that saw Citroën Racing claim its hundredth WRC win at the start of the year in which the brand celebrates its centenary!

Tackling the last 13.58 kilometres of a Rallye Monte-Carlo held over some 324 kilometres with a lead of just four tenths of a second calls for one hell of a cool head. And never more so when your concentration has been somewhat disturbed by a throttle issue. With six world titles to their names, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have long since mastered the art of managing the pressure in this kind of situation and the adrenalin pumping through their systems, and they demonstrated it once again today. Second fastest on the final stage between La Cabanette and the Col de Braus, the Frenchmen sealed their seventh overall win and their sixth in a row in the Principality by just 2.2s, on their first competitive outing the C3 WRC! The result also means the pair now jointly hold of the record for the number of wins at this prestigious rally and confirms just how much Sébastien and Julien are already at one with their new car. 

This exceptional performance is equally Citroën Racing’s hundredth victory in the World Rally Championship, almost twenty years after its first win at this level when the Xsara Kit-Car prevailed at the 1999 Rally de Catalunya, driven by the late Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni, who now works as recce and weather coordinator for the team. A historic achievement that reflects the kind of longevity at the highest level that few manufacturers can boast.

All too aware of the pitfalls invariably provided by Monte-Carlo, the French pair adopted a measured, intelligent approach from the outset, grabbing second position after Thursday’s opening two night stages. They then moved into the overall lead the following day in the afternoon (SS7), thanks in large part to two stage wins (SS5 and SS6) on Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) and Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20.04km), both new stages this year. Having ended Friday’s leg with a narrow 2.0s lead, Sébastien and Julien managed to more than double their advantage on Agnières en Devoluy – Corps (29.82km), the opening speed test on Saturday and the longest of the weekend, and this despite the stage featuring plenty of ice. A lead that they managed for the rest of Saturday’s leg, meaning they began the final day 4.3s ahead of the second-placed crew. They traded blows with their closest challengers on Sunday’s short final leg before pipping them to victory in the last few hundred metres.

Meanwhile, although they were forced to retire on Saturday morning after an engine issues, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm had nonetheless made a promising start to the race, holding a brilliant fourth place on Thursday evening. Clearly, Citroën Total WRT made the right call in deciding to add them to their driver line-up, alongside Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. Given that they are also likely to have a good position in the running order in Sweden, they will undoubtedly be a force to be reckoned with again.

REACTIONS FROM…

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver

“We certainly weren’t taking anything for granted. The final leg, in particular, was really stressful and difficult with our minor throttle issue, which meant the car kept on accelerating, even under braking. We got some good advice from the team and were able to perform some makeshift repairs on the road section. We then pushed really hard and in the end, it worked out! It was an incredibly intense weekend. It was a non-stop battle, but we managed to come away with the win. Obviously, we’re very proud of this result in our first race with the C3 WRC, especially because, as I’ve often said, this rally is the one that is the most special for me. And it also means we can celebrate Citroën’s centenary in style. In other words, we couldn’t have hoped for a better start on our first race back with the team!”

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PIERRE BUDAR, CITROËN RACING TEAM PRINCIPAL

What are your feelings after this historic win?

Well, it certainly was a sensational win. I think, symbolically, it’s quite a big statement. It was extremely important for us to manage to secure this hundredth WRC win at the first round of the season, especially at such an iconic event as Rally Monte-Carlo and which is also held mainly in France. We’re also really pleased to add an eighth win to our joint record with Sébastien and Julien, in this, Citroën’s centenary year. When we decided to join forces again this year, we hoped to be able to add a few new pages to the history of the sport and our first race together couldn’t possibly have worked out any better.

How would you describe the performance of Sébastien and Julien?

At a rally as crazy as this one, with tyre choice once again proving very difficult and really tricky road conditions, quite simply, they produced a majestic performance. Majestic in the control and calm they exuded. It’s very interesting working with them, because there’s no standing on ceremony, they speak their minds and they know exactly what we need to focus on. They are helping us to make progress very quickly but it goes without saying that we’re going to need to keep working relentlessly. This opening round has clearly shown that this season is going to be closer than ever. In addition to Sébastien and Julien, who were obviously exceptional this weekend, I would like to pay tribute to the performance of all the members of the team. Their commitment has never wavered, even in our moments of doubt last year, and they have all put in countless hours of hard work so that we could make such a great start to our 2019 campaign. This result is obviously down to them as well!

HIGHLIGHTS

Indispensable partner to Sébastien Ogier and first-hand witness of how comfortable he is behind the wheel, the French co-driver told us about their state of mind as they waited to start the final stage.

“Before the final stage, our engineer asked me if he could do anything for us and I just suggested he should light a candle for us, and perhaps prepare the tow-truck and straps as well, you never know… Because we had no intention of messing about! I think I aged a few years over the course of this morning’s loop of four stages, it was so tense. Once we were underway, we pushed really hard whilst not making any mistakes, which is pretty exceptional from Seb, really, on his first rally in the C3 WRC. And yet, once we passed the finish line, we didn’t know quite what to think. There wasn’t much excitement at the stop control and then on the left, I saw Seb’s dad, who had a broad smile on his face. That was when I knew we’d won. Seb, however, didn’t notice at the time, he had to look down to get confirmation. He realised we’d won and then there was quite a bit of emotion in the car.” 

FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS

1. Ogier / Ingrassia (Citroën C3 WRC) 3:21.15.9

2. Neuville / Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2.2

3. Tänak / Järveoja (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:15.2

4. Loeb / Elena (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:28.2

5. Latvala / Anttila (Toyota Yaris WRC) +2:29.9

6. Meeke / Marshall (Toyota Yaris WRC) +5:36.2

7. Greensmith / Edmondson (Ford Fiesta R5) +13:04.6

8. Bonato / Boulloud (Citroën C3 R5) +13:56.5

DRIVERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1. Sébastien Ogier – 29 points

2. Thierry Neuville – 21 points

3. Ott Tänak – 17 points

4. Kris Meeke – 13 points

5. Sébastien Loeb – 12 points

6. Jari-Matti Latvala – 10 points

MANUFACTURERS’ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

1 Hyundai WRT – 30 points

2 Citroën Total WRT – 25 points

3. Toyota Gazoo Racing – 25 points

4. M-Sport Ford WRT – 14 points

The C3 WRC all set for regal challenge

87th Rallye Monte-Carlo (22-27 January 2019) – Preview

The WRC season’s traditional opening round, Rallye Monte-Carlo is also one of the toughest challenges faced by the crews – a winter event held in unpredictable conditions. With Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janni Ferm in the team’s two C3 WRCs, Citroën Total World Rally Team will be able to count on the six-time world champions and rallying’s most promising crew to do the team proud.

Citroën Racing’s technical team has done everything to help its new crews rack up as many miles as possible and start the season with confidence. Both crews had three and half days of specific testing with the C3 WRC – generally covering more than two hundred kilometres per day – in order to run through the wide range of set-up options available. The pre-event tests were held on slippery, dry and wet tarmac, snow and ice, in other words, all of the difficulties that Monte is capable of throwing at you in a single stage! The efforts made confirm Citroën’s determination to up its game this season and quickly pass the milestone of a hundred WRC wins.

Understandably, as the defending six-time world champion and winner of the Rallye Monte-Carlo for the last five years, Sébastien Ogier represents the team’s greatest hopes of success at Monte. The local hero, who has proven time and time again his ability to adapt to conditions, has become an expert at reading the local roads and their countless variations in grip.

With three appearances at this round, Esapekka Lappi does not possess the same experience as his French team-mate. Building on his impressive performances in 2018, during which he scored three podiums, the 28 years old Finn is determined to keep improving in what will be only his second full season in the WRC.

 

Sesbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia testing the Citroen C3 WRC, south of France on january 15, 2019

REACTIONS FROM…

 

Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“Although Sébastien and Julien recognised a few familiar faces in the team, this wasn’t the case for Esapekka and Janne, and yet they have settled in quickly and smoothly. We used the off-season to prepare for 2019 in a composed manner, to learn from one another and enable the crews to get as used to the car as possible. At Monte-Carlo, it’s absolutely essential to feel confident in the car. As Sébastien and Julien are five-time winners of the rally, and finished first here last year, they will obviously be a force to be reckoned with. Esapekka and Janne are less experienced on these unusual stages and will undoubtedly be adopting a more gradual approach.”

 

Olivier Maroselli, Citroën Racing Technical Director
“The C3 WRC has undergone some considerable changes since the 2018 Rallye Monte-Carlo, in terms of the dampers and the design of the suspension, and we now have a good understanding of the basic set-up. We worked on getting a car that was easier to drive, and which is therefore capable of adapting to the varied levels of grip that tend to be thrown up by this event. We had pretty much every condition going during testing: dry tarmac, snow and good quality ice, melting snow and slush. This meant we could analyse a wide variety of settings, such as cross-fitted tyres, which involves paying very careful attention to the set-up in order to ensure the car’s handling remains predictable. We also worked on set-up options that might be adjusted by the crews between stages on a loop, so I think we are well prepared for the rally.”

 

Sébastien Ogier, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I had a wide variety of conditions during my three and a half days of testing, which was pretty good and enabled us to work on achieving the best possible compromise. The feeling was good, but it’s always difficult to estimate your level of performance for the first race in a new car. I’m going to do what I’ve always done and trust my feeling. This is especially true because Monte is a rally that you are more likely to win by driving intelligently, rather than on the limit, given how many places there are where you can get caught out. In any case, I’ve always done well here and I hope that my experience will help me again!”

Number of appearances at the event: 9
Number of wins: 6 (2009 in the IRC, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018)

 

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver
“I’m pleased with our tests since we were able to try out everything, apart from completely dry tarmac. With the team, we found a set-up that suits me and I felt comfortable in the car. Having said all that, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is still a huge challenge. It’s an event you have to treat with great respect, especially as it’s never really the same rally from one year to the next, given the way the conditions are constantly changing. I hope to have amassed enough experience in the past to be able to fight near the front. A top-five finish would be a good start to the season for me.”

Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 7th (2018)

KEY FIGURES

16 timed stages covering a total of 323.83 km
43 the maximum number of Michelin tyres that may be used per car, chosen from 24 super soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport SS6), 20 soft-compound slicks (Pilot Sport S6), 12 non-studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41) and 24 studded snow tyres (Pilot Alpin A41 CL)
7 the number of wins recorded by Citroën at the Rallye Monte-Carlo (2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013)
1 hr 10 mins at the latest before the first car on stage, the safety crews (Simon Jean-Joseph-Jack Boyère for Sébastien Ogier-Julien Ingrassia and Mikko Heikkila-Jan Lonegren for Esapekka Lappi-Janne Ferm) are allowed to complete the stages. Equipped with a copy of their crew’s pace notes, they describe the condition of the road, something which is critically important at Monte-Carlo.

Sesbastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia testing the Citroen C3 WRC, south of France on january 15, 2019

RALLYE MONTE-CARLO SCHEDULE (GMT+1)

This year’s route, whilst more compact, actually spans five French departments – the Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes Alpes, Drôme, Isère and Alpes Maritimes – and once again promises to provide plenty of difficulties and uncertainty. In fact, almost 47% of the stages have been revised, whilst Thursday evening’s stages, held after nightfall, are completely new this year. The Valdrome – Sigottier (20.04km) and Curbans – Piegut (18.47km) stages, held on Friday’s leg, are also brand new for 2019.
With the weather always changeable at this time of year, where conditions can be radically different from one side of the mountain to the other, this year’s rally is certain to be a huge challenge once again. Monte-Carlo is often described as being all about “tyres and drivers”. More than anywhere else, perhaps, it is critical to make the right call on tyres and to be genuinely at one with your car, so that you can anticipate its reactions to the constantly changing grip levels provided by the roads.

THURSDAY 24 JANUARY
10.00am: Shakedown (Gap)
6.50pm: Start day 1 (Gap – Place Desmichels)
7.38pm: SS 1 – La Breole – Selonnet (20,76 km)
8.41pm: SS 2 – Avançon – Notre Dame du Laus (20,59 km)
9.41pm: Flexi service A (Gap – 48 mins)

FRIDAY 25 JANUARY
7.30am: Start day 2 and service B (Gap – 18 mins)
9.11am: SS 3 – Valdrome – Sigottier 1 (20,04 km)
10.14am: SS 4 – Roussieux – Laborel 1 (24,05 km)
11.37am: SS 5 – Curbans – Piegut 1 (18,47 km)
12.27pm: Service C (Gap – 33 mins)
2.23pm: SS 6 – Valdrome – Sigottier 2 (20,04 km)
3.26pm: SS 7 – Roussieux – Laborel 2 (24,05 km)
4.49pm: SS 8 – Curbans – Piegut 2 (18,47 km)
5.44pm: Flexi service D (Gap – 48 mins)

SATURDAY 26 JANUARY
7.37am: Start day 3 and service E (Gap – 18 mins)
8.48am: SS 9 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 1 (29,82 km)
10.06am: SS 10 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 1 (16,87 km)
11.21am: Service F (Gap – 33 mins)
12.47pm: SS 11 – Agnières en Devoluy – Corps 2 (29,82 km)
2.08pm: SS 12 – St Léger les Mélèzes – La Batie Neuve 2 (16,87 km)
3.18pm: Service G (Gap – 48 mins)
8.06pm: Parc ferme (Monaco)

SUNDAY 27 JANUARY
6.22am: Start day 4
8.20am: SS 13 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 1 (18,41 km)
9.08am: SS 14 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 1 (13,58 km)
10.55am: SS 15 – La Bollène Vésubie – Peira Cava 2 (18,41 km)
12.18pm: SS 16 – La Cabanette – Col de Braus 2 – Power Stage (13,58 km)
1.58pm: Parc ferme (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)
3.00pm: Prize giving (Monaco – Quai Albert 1er)

 

Citroën Total WRT launches its 2019 season!

Citroën Total World Rally Team today unveils the new colours of its C3 WRCs, driven this year by Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm, as the 2019 WRC season is officially launched at the Autosport International show in the NEC Birmingham. A brand new livery, designed to celebrate the brand’s centenary, as Red Bull returns alongside long-standing partners Total and Michelin.

A hundred years ago, French industrialist André-Gustave Citroën founded the Citroën brand. It has since become a major global manufacturer, one where motorsport has always been of vital importance. To celebrate its centenary, the C3 WRC is this year adorned with the double chevrons of the brand’s original logo and features a symbolic reference to 1919, the year in which the brand was founded, equally confirming its commitment to racing.

The C3 WRC’s livery still features its long-standing partner Total. In fact, 2019 sees Citroën and the French oil company enter the fifty-first year of their technical and sporting partnership. Equally strong ties have been forged with Michelin over the years, which is why the world famous French tyre manufacturer will also be supporting the team this year, whilst Red Bull, the famous energy drink that previously sponsored Citroën in the WRC between 2008 and the end of 2012, will feature on the Satory-based team’s official clothing and cars.

Following the media launch at Autosport International, the real action will get underway on the tricky roads of the forthcoming Rallye Monte-Carlo (22-27 January) for Sébastien Ogier – Julien Ingrassia and Esapekka Lappi – Janne Ferm. The opening round will be followed by another thirteen, equally demanding events, with the season set to conclude once again in Australia (14-17 November). Citroën Total WRT, which already has claimed some 99 WRC victories since 1999, will be attacking the new season determined to pass the hundred mark in World Rally Championship wins and fight for the world title.