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.

DS TECHEETAH extends its championship lead

The 2019 ABB FIA Formula E Marrakesh E-Prix saw a brave start from Jean-Éric Vergne who launched for the lead into turn one from his P2 start position. Unfortunately, the attempt was just on the limit and the Frenchman spun out. But this didn’t stop the reigning Formula E champion who quickly worked his way through the grid to end P5 at the checkered flag.

André Lotterer had an unfortunate qualifying session and started in P20. After a good start from the grid, he moved into P14 after only the first lap and continued up to P8 with a little less than half the race to go.

On a mission to complete more overtakes, Jean-Éric and André climbed up to P5 and P6 respectively with 10 minutes left of the race. Eagerly awaiting the Safety Car to end with only a couple minutes left on the clock, both drivers activated their second ATTACK MODE to prepare to tackle the last lap flat out.

Scoring eight valuable points, André moved up to 4th in the championship standings with 19 points, just behind team-mate, Jean-Éric who currently sits in 3rd with 28 points.

With another 18 points scored today, DS TECHEETAH has now extended its championship lead with seven points to its nearest rival as it prepares for the Santiago E-Prix on the 26 January.

« Today wasn’t at all what it was set out to be. We’re racing drivers in the end of the day and we go for the gap, so when I saw it I went for it, but quickly realised that I couldn’t make it so I had to spin the car so that I didn’t crash into Sam as I didn’t want to ruin his race. Today was my fault, but if this is the biggest mistake I’ve done in Formula E so far and I still got P5, there’s still a lot to be happy about. In the end, I overtook 15 cars gaining 16 seconds on the leaders and I was only four seconds behind the them in the last couple of laps which shows the incredible pace of our package. » said DS TECHEETAH Driver Jean-Éric Vergne.

« Qualifying in the back isn’t the start you want but we had fun fighting our way through the grid to finish P6 in the end. I made a small mistake in the qualifying session which led to the start from the back but it’s good to be in the Top 5 in the championship and to remain the championship leaders. As we head to the South American races rest assured, we will continue to fight to stay there. We had a good race in Santiago last year when we scored the first 1-2 in Formula E history, but it’s a new track this year so let’s see if we can do it all again at the new location. »  said DS TECHEETAH Driver, André Lotterer.

« Incredible drive from both of our drivers today. To have both of them fighting their way from the back and ending up in the Top 6 of the race shows what pace we have in the cars and what stellar drivers we have. We closed the gap by half to the leaders throughout the race in the end, and that’s quite something.

“It’s a shame to not have come away with the win today but we’ve scored some valuable points and we know from last season that playing the points game in the long term is what wins you a championship. We’ve strengthened our championship lead with another seven points to our nearest rival and we’re ready for another successful Santiago E-Prix » said DS TECHEETAH Team Principal, Mark Preston.

« We have consolidated our lead in the team standings and confirmed the excellent performance of DS E-TENSE FE19 today, which validates the technical choices that we made. Congratulations to Jean-Éric and André who made an impressive comeback today! We are in the match for the two titles of this extraordinary championship, and that’s what counts. » said DS Performance Director, Xavier Mestelan Pinon.