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First development tests for the Citroën C3 R5!

September 4, 2017

After a year of research, calculation and design work, Citroën Racing is holding the first development tests for the C3 R5 this week.

An entirely new product intended for customer racing, the Citroën C3 R5 aims to become the new benchmark in its category.

Since 2013, the R5 regulations devised by the FIA have led to the appearance of a new generation of rally cars. Designed for private teams and drivers, these reduced-cost products are often described as “mini-WRCs” due to their technical characteristics: four-wheel drive, 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine generating about 280bhp, sequential semi-automatic gearbox, etc.

The success enjoyed by the category also comes down to its universal appeal: the R5s compete in the WRC 2, the ERC and in most of the national championships. The cornerstone of the renewed customer racing line-up at Citroën Racing, the C3 R5 will shortly be ready for competitive action!

“We are reaching an important milestone this week with the first development tests of the car, which is already close to the finished product,” explained Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal. “The specifications given to the technical teams are clear: we want the Citroën C3 R5 to set new standards in the category, in terms of performance, reliability and controlled operating costs. In order to create an entirely new product, we used all of Citroën Racing’s experience in the WRC, adding contributions from leading technical suppliers such as Sadev for the transmission and Reiger for the suspension systems. Our works drivers will also be taking part in development of the car: Stéphane Lefebvre and Craig Breen are driving in this first session, along with Yoann Bonato, the current leader of the French Rally Championship.”

Design work on the Citroën C3 R5 began about a year ago. In addition to the work done in the design and calculation office, most of the mechanical components have been tested in real conditions, on test mules driven since the start of 2017.

“For the first outing of the full car, we are already pretty close to the definition that will be offered to customers. The sessions are being held on gravel, on sufficiently varied road surfaces to test the car’s robustness and begin fine-tuning the basic set-up,” explained Pierre Budar, Development Director, Customer Racing Vehicles. “There is a direct link between the C3 R5 and the C3 WRC: for example, the roll cage of the two cars was designed by the same engineer. Some solutions have been re-used, whilst adapting them to the constraints of the regulations and small-scale production. Similarly, the engine has been developed in-house, based on the unit used on the production model, therefore providing the greatest potential in terms of performance and reliability. We have also chosen to work together with the best suppliers. Overall, we have an even, consistent product, capable of meeting the goals of the customers that choose the Citroën C3 R5.”

Following these first test sessions, Citroën Racing will be pursuing development of the C3 R5 on both gravel and tarmac, calling upon various drivers with different profiles in order to achieve a genuinely versatile product. FIA homologation is scheduled for 2018.



ŠKODA starts Young Drivers Program – Juuso Nordgren competing in RallyRACC Catalunya

September 4, 2017

ŠKODA Motorsport is starting a campaign to search for young talented drivers. Juuso Nordgren, 20 years old driver from Finland, will be together with his co-driver Tapio Suominen the first young gun to drive a ŠKODA FABIA R5. He will compete at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España (05/10/–08/10/2017), the Spanish round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).

“After prematurely winning the title in the WRC 2 category of the World Rally Championship, we are now looking for young talented drivers. This Young Drivers Program will be launched at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España and will continue with testing promising new talents like Juuso Nordgren. He attracted our attention as a young driver with an interesting potential,” explains ŠKODA Motorsport boss Michal Hrabánek.

Juuso Nordgren was born in Karkkila, a village in the northwest of Helsinki, an area where also living rally legend Markku Alén comes from. In 2015 Nordgren became Finnish Junior Champion and was named “Future Rally Star of Finland 2016”. During Rally Finland 2017 he won four stages driving a private ŠKODA FABIA R5.

“I’m so grateful to ŠKODA for putting so much faith in me and giving me this amazing opportunity,” says Juuso Nordgren.

The Finn will start at RallyRACC Catalunya – Rallye de España as part of the ŠKODA Motorsport team alongside regulars Jan Kopecký / Pavel Dresler.


2018 MSA British Rally Championship calendar announced

August 16, 2017

All BRC roads lead to the World Rally Championship

As the exciting 2017 title race heads to Ulster this weekend, the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship (BRC) has today (16 August) confirmed its 2018 calendar.

The series will feature six rounds in six territories, as the BRC tours the British Isles, with events in Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, Isle of Man and Wales. A trip to Belgium for the classic Ypres Rally will once again be a popular overseas addition, as the BRC underlines its standing as the world’s premier domestic rally championship.

One of the highlights of the 2018 campaign will be the championship finale, which will be held on the biggest stage possible – Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, the British round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The WRC event will offer BRC crews and their partners the chance to be at the heart of the country’s biggest rally. A double-header format on the legendary Welsh stages will allow competitors to vie for championship honours and also go toe-to-toe with the leading names in world rallying.

The calendar announcement completes a busy week of good news, with the confirmation that title sponsor Prestone has renewed its commitment to Britain’s premier rally series for another year.

2018 Prestone MSA British Rally Championship calendar*

10/11 March – Border Counties Rally, Jedburgh, Scotland
28/29 April – Pirelli International Rally, Carlisle, England
29/30 June – Renties Ypres Rally, Ypres, Belgium
17/18 August – John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally, Derry/Londonderry, N. Ireland
13/14/15 September – Rally Isle of Man, Douglas, Isle of Man
October** – Dayinsure Wales Rally GB, Deeside, Wales

*Calendar subject to approval by the MSA
** Date to be confirmed by WRC Promoter & FIA World Motor Sport Council

IMS Managing Director Ben Taylor

“Putting a calendar together is always a difficult process, particularly when there are more candidate events than we can accommodate. We have had to take some tricky decisions and as a result both the Nicky Grist Stages and the Scottish Rally have missed out this time around. We are really grateful for their commitment to the BRC in the past two years and, as classic events, we wish them every success in 2018.

“As the BRC becomes more popular and successful, we have to ensure that it delivers on other aspects as well as simply the stages and organisation; we need crowds and venues, a strong impact on the local area and the creation of spectacular events to ensure that the championship continues to grow.”

BRC Championship Manager Iain Campbell

“The events that make up the British Rally Championship next year achieve many goals for us. They all offer superb competition on the best stages possible and all the events offer the best platform for the ambitious crews to develop the skills required to take them to the very top of the sport. The events all deliver an impact on a local, national and international level for Prestone and the other championship partners.

“There is more to come from us to show that BRC 2018 will be the place to be for our competitors – whether coming from a national or international background. For now we are delighted with our six events and are looking forward to the exciting conclusion to the 2017 season.”

Further initiatives regarding next season will be announced in due course, but in the meantime the 2017 championship continues this weekend with the classic John Mulholland Motors Ulster Rally on 18/19 August as the crews tackle two days through the fast, narrow roads around the city of Derry/Londonderry.

Keep tabs on all the latest BRC developments by visiting or following us on social media: MSA British Rally Championship on Facebook, @MSA_BRC on Twitter and @MSABRC on Instagram using #BRC


ORECA announces its development drivers for the FIA R4 Kit

August 7, 2017

A few weeks subsequent to the publication of the FIA R4 regulations by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, ORECA – the official exclusive kit supplier for this class – released the names of the three drivers responsible for developing the kit in the upcoming months.

Step by step, the R4 project is coming to fruition. For the first dynamic testing of the kit, ORECA has chosen three seasoned and complementary drivers to carry out the development work during various testing sessions scheduled to begin this summer. Stéphane Sarrazin, Raphaël Astier and Teemu Suninen will call upon their cumulative experience in rally to serve ORECA during the next few months to validate the decisions made relative to the FIA R4 kit.

Stéphane Sarrazin: the French driver is known for his versatility, as evidenced by a nearly 25-year career both on the track and in rally. Currently with Toyota in endurance racing and Venturi in Formula e, he was crowned French Rally Champion in 2004 prior to competing for several seasons in the World Rally Championship as an official Subaru driver and in the European Rally Championship with Peugeot. His many victories in major circuit races, international experience with constructors and close ties to ORECA quickly made his involvement in this program essential. Stéphane will also be able to provide a useful perspective as a team principal given that he has launched his own team, Sarrazin Motorsport.

”Everyone is aware of my interest in rally and strong connection with ORECA. I am happy to play a part in this new endeavor! The R4 class looks promising with a top-notch performance level and proper approach. I will contribute as a driver but also a bit like a team owner. I cannot wait to start testing. It is always interesting to play a role in the development, for both circuit and rally racing, especially at the wheel of a car that will compete all over the world as well. I will try to make use of all my experience and I think that with Teemu and Raphaël we will form a good trio,” explains Stéphane.

Raphaël Astier: a winner in the French Rally Championship, Raphaël represents the younger generation of French rally drivers. First at the wheel of a Porsche 911 then a Peugeot 208, he has made impressive progress, even clinching a class win at this year’s Monte Carlo Rally. Having served as an ORECA Store ambassador for several years now, he has cemented a strong relationship with the French company and therefore is an important contributor to this program.

The young French driver states, “I happy to be participating in this program as a test driver for the development of the R4 class and I am looking forward to learning about this new car and sharing my impressions with the ORECA technicians.

The R4 is a very good idea and I believe it will prove highly successful with rally competitors. To be involved in a project in its infancy is always motivating. Here’s to the first kilometers this summer!”

Teemu Suninen: after cutting his teeth in the World Rally Championship with ORECA in 2015 and 2016 – first in the WRC 3 then the WRC 2 with a Ford Fiesta R5 then a Skoda Fabia R5 – the young Finnish driver has moved up in the World Rally Championship this year by joining the prestigious M-Sport/Ford team. After starting the season in WRC 2, at just 23 years of age, Teemu made a remarkable debut in the top WRC class at the 2017 Rally of Poland (6th) and confirmed his natural speed a few days ago with a superb 4th place at home in the Rally of Finland.

“It is very exciting to be able to take part in the development of a new class in rally. I think R4 is a great way to build a bridge between R3 and R5, it will make moving from one class to another easier. I’ve always thought it was important to have this class because there are quite a few good drivers and I believe this will allow more drivers the opportunity to run good cars. I hope this new class will be successful and I have complete confidence that ORECA will design a strong kit,” affirms the Finn.

The caliber of such a varied trio provides an ideal collaboration for the development of a new class like the R4. Their respective experience, whether on a track or asphalt, will prove an invaluable asset in the work awaiting ORECA Technology in the coming weeks.


Hyundai Motorsport reveals search for WRC talent of the future

August 1, 2017

* Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP) sets out objective to identify and nurture future world rally star
* Initial pre-selection to take place in August with up to eight candidates undergoing a driving assessment in September
* The winning crew will be announced later in the year with a comprehensive itinerary planned for 2018.

Hyundai Motorsport has reaffirmed its commitment to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) by announcing plans to support a potential WRC star.

Run under the existing Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program (HMDP), the company is embarking on an intensive selection process.

From a pool of 16 candidates invited to Alzenau, who have already been identified, only a maximum of eight will be invited to remain onto the second stage of the process. Ultimately only one winner will represent Hyundai Motorsport on the global rally stage, participating in selected WRC2 events in 2018 in a New Generation i20 R5 car.

An initial pre-selection event is taking place this month with prospective hopefuls being assessed across a range of criteria. Covering technical understanding, English language, PR skills, and communication with mechanics and engineers, it is an all-encompassing activity with a group of the most well-rounded candidates going onto the next step.

The drivers, along with their respective co-drivers, will undertake tests on tarmac and gravel in September, before a final decision is made on the prize winner. Hyundai Motorsport will also nominate a team to run the program on its behalf throughout 2018.

A dedicated panel of team management will be involved in the selection process, including Team Principal Michel Nandan, Team Manager Alain Penasse, Customer Racing Manager Andrea Adamo and Director of Marketing and PR Stefan Ph. Henrich.

We have been developing our rally activities over the past few years with our successful WRC and Customer Racing activities. The Hyundai Motorsport Driver development Program is a further example of our commitment to rallying. We are excited to begin our search for a future WRC star. There is so much untapped talent; we want to help nurture the stars of tomorrow. We will put initial candidates through the ultimate assessment to identify the best on the market. The winning crew will be announced later in the year with a comprehensive itinerary planned for 2018. We look forward to starting the process of this exciting initiative.

Michel Nandan
Team Principal


Mads Østberg is parting ways with co-driver Ola Fløene

July 13, 2017

After 1.5 year of partnership Mads and Ola have decided to part ways, due to sporting reasons.

Team principal Morten Østberg says:

“This is a team decision. We have seen over a period that there have been challenges in the relation between Mads and Ola. In the end, we must think about what is best for the team. On high performance level, everything has to run smooth.

While we are working on a permanent solution, Mads will be joined by Adapta Motorsport co-drivers Torstein Eriksen and Patrik Barth for the next rallies, starting with Eriksen in Rally Finland.

We know both of them well, and we are certain that they have the experience and skill to perform well and fill the role.

Ola will still be connected to Adapta Motorsport. We are working together with different plans separated to Mads’ WRC program.”


Q & A: Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal

July 3, 2017

How do you assess the results achieved by Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Poland?

“As soon as we saw the weather forecast for opening leg of the rally, we knew that our drivers wouldn’t be able to challenge at the front. There were two reasons for this: the fact that all our testing with our latest upgrades had been done in dry conditions and their very poor position in the running order. Craig’s race was then dealt a body blow at the start with a mechanical issue. Despite these handicaps, nobody in the team became despondent. As soon as the conditions became more even, our drivers moved back into the mix, making use of the work done by the team before the rally. From Friday lunchtime onwards, Andreas, Stéphane and Craig racked up a total of fifteen top-five times at one of the most intense rallies in the history of the WRC. There are no miracles in motorsport: the hard work we have done will take time to pay dividends, especially as the other teams have not rested on their laurels. The last few tenths are always the most difficult to hunt down.”

This time out, it was Stéphane Lefebvre that secured the team’s best result…

“When I told Stéphane that he wouldn’t be competing in Sardinia, I asked him to work even harder in order to prepare for Poland. He had a good race here in 2016 and we knew that he had the potential to pick up a good result. This weekend, he managed to put together all the things he has learned in his time as a professional rally driver. He had the sense to push when he had the confidence to do so and take it a bit easier when the conditions were too tricky. And for once this season, he had a bit of luck too. This result will help to boost Stéphane’s confidence.”

Having said all that, he won’t be competing at the next two rallies?

“In Finland, Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Khalid Al Qassimi will form our driver line-up. In Germany, the three C3 WRCs will be driven by Kris Meeke, Andreas Mikkelsen and Craig Breen. Stéphane will return to competitive action in Spain. Just like with our mechanics or engineers, the drivers have to know when to act in the best interests of the team, because our priority is to get the best results for Citroën. Stéphane understands this perfectly well. He won’t be sitting around during this period though, because he will be taking part in various test sessions.”

Did you make the right call to drop Kris Meeke for Rally Poland?

“It’s not the first time that this has happened in the WRC: several teams have made adjustments to their driver line-up in the past. I honestly believe that Kris needed a break. The aim is very simple: for Kris to come back in better form than ever, so that we can win together. For the time being, no one can say with any certainty whether we made the right or wrong call. But we couldn’t keep doing nothing. We had to take action to end this run of results and I take full responsibility for this decision.”

Kris cannot be held solely responsible for the team’s poor run. Some questions have been raised about the handling of the car…

“We never said that. It is worth remembering, however, that after each test session, the drivers said they were very happy with the handling of the car. But they were unable to find the same feeling on rallies conditions. That means that some of the directions taken during development of the C3 WRC were not fit for purpose. Once we had taken the step back we needed to take, I asked the technical team to work on some upgrades that would provide the car with greater versatility. There have been a number of changes: upgrades to the suspension at Rally Sweden, upgrades to the transmission in Poland and others will follow over the coming months. This all takes time. With a wider driver range, we are confident in our ability to move faster in the right direction.”

You also reorganised the team, with a new technical director…

“Yes, Laurent Fregosi – who had held this post for a year after having previously been chief engineer, chassis, for the C4, DS 3 WRC and C-Elysée WTCC – wanted to return to a more technically-focused role. We therefore appointed Christophe Besse, an engineer who knows Citroën very well since he was involved in work on the Xsara WRC at the start of the 2000s. This change is part of the new foundations established this weekend.”

The aim for the 2017 season was to win races. Is that still the case?

“The priority now is to prepare for 2018. Some of the upgrades will need several months of development work and they won’t be ready to be introduced until the start of next season. That doesn’t mean that we won’t win any more events in 2017. At the Tour de Corse, we showed the performance level of the C3 WRC on tarmac… However, I have asked the engineers to focus on development of the car, rather than on specific settings for each rally.”