PARIS: Loeb receives the keys to his 2011 office

Citroën is unleashing an all-new contender for the 2011 World Rally Championship – the Citroën DS3 WRC. The hotly anticipated replacement for the multi-championship winning C4 WRC will make its global public debut at the 2010 Paris Motor Show.

More compact than its predecessor, the Citroën DS3 WRC boasts the same powerful lines as the production DS3, although they are emphasised by the cooling vents and aerodynamic parts designed to improve road holding at high speeds.  Under the bonnet, the 300hp 1.6-litre direct-injection turbocharged engine was conceived from start to finish by Citroën Racing.  The four-wheel-drive transmission incorporates a six-gear sequential gearbox and front and rear mechanical differentials.

DS3 WRC is designed to limit the budgets required to compete in the WRC.  The new FIA rules ban costly materials such as titanium and carbon-fibre, and standardise certain parts like the turbocharger and limit the changes that can be made to the vehicle during its lifetime.

The icy stages of Rally Sweden in February 2011 are expected to give the model its first taste of competitive action.  Two teams – Sébastien Loeb / Daniel Elena and Sébastien Ogier / Julien Ingrassia – have already been confirmed for the 2011 World Rally Championship, with Loeb confirming 2011 will be his last season in the sport.

What a fantastic looking car to go out in.