Citroën is turning its attention to touring car racing in 2014, and who better to lead its campaign than its star rally driver Sébastien Loeb?
The nine-time World Rally Champion – all of whose titles were secured behind the wheel of a Citroën (Xsara, C4 and DS3 WRC) – has made no secret of his enthusiasm to enter the WTCC. “First of all, I am pleased that this has been confirmed,” said Loeb. “It’s a bit of a dream to think that we are going to write a new chapter in our history.”
I don’t expect to win straight away, but I am determined to get there one day.
– Sébastien Loeb
“I can’t wait to get out on track in the car and start testing. I have used this transitional year to try out various experiences and to improve my track driving skills. I don’t expect to win straight away, but I am determined to get there one day.”
It’s not the first time that a loose-surface champion has transferred his winning ways to the track – Loeb’s countryman Yvan Muller is a ten-time champion of the Andros Trophy Ice Racing Series and went on to become WTCC World Champion in 2008, 2010 & 2011. Muller currently races with the RML team at the wheel of an independent Chevy Cruze, after the withdrawal of Chevrolet from the WTCC at the end of last season.
Citroën Racing’s entry into the world of track racing will coincide with the introduction of a new generation of Citroën cars, although the team will build upon the DS3 WRC’s 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine.
Frédéric Banzet, CEO of the Citroën Brand said “The WTCC is based on several aspects that are essential to Citroën: extensive media coverage, regulations that keep costs down and a genuinely global race calendar.”
“Our involvement in this championship will give us not only another chance to showcase our Créative Technologie but it will also help us to develop the Brand in promising, growth markets such as China, Russia and South America. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our long standing partner, Total, who will remain at our side for this new adventure.”
Work has already begun at the company’s Versailles technical centre, with first tests of the new car over the coming weeks. Citroën are still committed to rallying, and confirmed they will continue their partnership with Abu Dhabi under “..a new set of objectives.”
Sébastien Loeb has been confirmed as Citroën’s first driver in WTCC, with further drivers due to be confirmed over the next few months. If a deal can be done, then a dream team of Loeb, Muller and Citroen would provide a formidable challenge to the other factory team in the series, run by Honda.