Analysis: Will Citroen's WRC hiatus pay off as it did in 2006?

Citroen's 2016 hiatus is not the first time it has taken a year away from the World Rally Championship

Analysis: Will Citroen's WRC hiatus pay off as it did in 2006?

It did exactly the same thing in 2006 when the C4 replaced the ageing Xsara.

This time around, though, the initial news isn't nearly as bad. News of 2006 came late in '04 and the WRC stopped in its tracks. Citroen and sister firm Peugeot were out...

Citroen's then team principal Guy Frequelin told Autosport: "We will definitely not be here after next year. Now we have to go and find a cheaper discipline than rallying."

And work on the Xsara WRC's replacement, the C4 WRC?

"It's stopped. There will be no more work on it."

The WRC had got out of hand. Tricky diffs, active suspension and all manner of space-age technology had driven the cost of competition through the roof.

And, for the PSA Group, those costs were multiplied by two with its pair of brands in the series. Its stance was understandable.

Fortunately, Citroen found a way of halving its £40million budget and 10 months later a complete cessation turned into a 2006-long sabbatical.

With Malcolm Wilson more than interested in signing Sebastien Loeb for Ford, Kronos Racing was deployed to keep the Frenchman on the boil in a Xsara WRC swansong while Versailles toiled to tailor its replacement.

So, Citroen stayed. Peugeot couldn't be saved.

And what a year 2006 turned into for the French (and Belgians at Kronos). Ford took the manufacturers' title, but Loeb maintained his run of drivers' championships.

He won eight of the first 12 rounds and finished fourth on the remaining four.

Such was his lead after Cyprus, that when he broke his arm falling off a mountain bike (one that subsequently turned out to have an engine...), he was able to take the remaining four rallies off. And still be champion.

Frequelin was absent from the events, but the telephone calls were endless and it came to the point that Kronos team chief Marc van Dalen had to ask Frequelin to take a step back.

When 'Freq' and his red army did return in January 2007, it was like they had never been away.

Arm fixed, Loeb and the C4 flew from the start. Eight wins and both titles followed that Monte Carlo return.

This time there won't be any season-long campaign in a PH Sport car for Kris Meeke or whoever Citroen selects to spearhead its 2017 return - but there will be around half a dozen events with Versailles staff partially disguised in a different uniform.

The DS 3 WRC will be tweaked with vital new kit being tested in time for the start of a new chapter, but as much as anything competing next season will keep the squad sharp.

But the return in 2017 will be undoubtedly tougher than a decade earlier.

This time Citroen comes without its talismanic wheelman and will face the all-conquering folk from Hannover with their latest and greatest, tried and very well tested Volkswagen Polo.

shares
comments
Ostberg leaves Citroen, Meeke could run partial WRC programme

Previous article

Ostberg leaves Citroen, Meeke could run partial WRC programme

Next article

Hyundai WRC team adamant it won't drop Thierry Neuville for 2016

Hyundai WRC team adamant it won't drop Thierry Neuville for 2016
Load comments
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021
Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit? Plus

Could Spa’s cameo offer the WRC a new avenue to exploit?

OPINION: The Ypres Rally featured a cameo from the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its final stage, giving WRC teams the chance to experience its iconic corners in rallying machinery. It proved to be an engaging addition to the rally, and could perhaps serve as an example for other events to visit famous circuits

WRC
Aug 24, 2021
How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium Plus

How Hyundai's home hero delivered overdue WRC success in Belgium

With limited recent fortune and pressure starting to mount, Hyundai needed a big result at the Ypres Rally. All the key components came together in Belgium to see home hero Thierry Neuville lead a manufacturer 1-2 and kickstart its World Rally Championship challenge

WRC
Aug 16, 2021
The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree Plus

The new car that can resurrect Ford's WRC winning pedigree

M-Sport has become the first to unveil its new-for-2022 hybrid World Rally Championship challenger, the Puma Rally1. Ford has upped its support in a bid for glory, but can the new machine roll back the years and return the Blue Oval to the top of the WRC tree?

WRC
Aug 12, 2021
The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies Plus

The rookie WRC driver aiming to continue Loeb and Ogier's legacies

French drivers have dominated the World Rally Championship across the past two decades; Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier have racked up the titles in commanding fashion. With Ogier calling it a day on full-time WRC competition from next year, France will pin its long-term hopes on rookie Adrien Fourmaux, who looks to have a bright future.

WRC
Aug 7, 2021