Citroen taken out of points battle until end of 2001

Citroen's new Xsara T4 WRC will not score World Rally Championship manufacturers' points for the remainder of this season and the French team must commit to a full season in 2002 if it wishes to get in the frame next year

Citroen taken out of points battle until end of 2001

The recently-formed World Rally Championship Commission announced that the combination of Citroen's limited 2001 programme and the undoubted potential of a car backed by a full season's budget, constituted a breach of the spirit of the rules.

Before the commission's announcement today (Wednesday), teams were allowed to ease themselves into the WRC over a period of three years. Scoring points was allowed provided teams took part in 30 percent of events in the first year, half in the second and a full programme in the third year.

Manufacturers such as Skoda and Hyundai, currently in year two of the three-year 'apprenticeship', are not affected by the rule change, nor are Citroen's drivers (Jesus Puras, Philippe Bugalski and Thomas Radstrom) who are free to score drivers championship points.

Perhaps fortunately, Citroen failed to score makes points on its series debut in Spain. Had the Xsaras not both hit trouble during the event and taken points, the commission would have found it harder to remove those points retrospectively.

Citroen has not challenged the rule but has asked that motorsport's governing body, the FIA, considers the points that it would have scored when determining the make up of next year's WRC Commission. At present the commission comprises FIA President Max Mosley, Rallies Commission President Shekhar Mehta, ISC boss David Richards (who holds the broadcasting rights to the WRC), representatives of the top five teams from last year's championship and five representatives from the 14 events.

It is believed that Citroen competition boss Guy Frequelin will use the rule change as a bargaining tool to obtain a 14-round programme next season. If he fails then he faces a second season without points before he must commit fully in 2003.

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