THE C3 R5 ENTERS THE FRAY!
Citroën Racing has chosen the French round of the World Rally Championship for the maiden outing of the C3 R5, its new customer racing product. The car will be driven by works crew Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau at the first of a seven-round WRC2 programme, as well as by Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud in a customer version, incorporated into the works team for this round.
The moment of truth is nigh for the Citroën C3 R5. After months of behind-the-scenes development work, having covered some six thousand kilometres of testing since September 2017 – when its first road tests were held – Citroën's new flagship model is at long last set to make its competitive debut next weekend at the Tour de Corse. The car will be looking to confirm its hopes of becoming the new benchmark in the category. Stéphane Lefebvre, works driver for the brand and one of those most involved in the car's development, has been tasked with showcasing the qualities of the C3 R5 on the World Championship stages and will begin his challenge for the WRC2 title. He will also be contesting rallies in Portugal and Sardinia. With three seasons in the WRC behind the wheel of a four-wheel drive car under his belt, the talented young Frenchman has the experience, maturity and speed necessary to make a strong challenge. The same goes for 2017 French Rally Champion Yoann Bonato, whose privately-run C3 R5 will be incorporated into the works team in Corsica in an attempt to pool assets and improve the car's chances of securing a good result. Equally very involved in development, the Isère driver boasts experience from competing at the last two Tour de Corse. Although more than sixty percent of the stages are new this year, the iconic island rally – with its demanding, twisty and occasionally quick roads, and some speed tests as long as fifty-five kilometres – is the perfect event to show off the versatility, reliability and competitiveness of the C3 R5. Finally, it is worth noting that a third C3 R5 will be running as one of the zero cars, driven by in-house test driver Alex Bengué.
WHAT THEY SAID
François Wales, Development Director, Customer Racing Vehicles
"Corsica is a proper rallying venue, with some of the most demanding roads in the world. We used them right at the start of the year, then again in March for two successive test sessions and our C3 R5 was in very good form there. So I have high hopes that it will show its potential on its international competitive debut. In any case, I'd like to acknowledge the performance of all our teams, who have worked incredibly hard to give us the best chance of making a success of this maiden outing."
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"As the standard in the WRC2 championship is extremely high, we'll need to be on the pace straight away. But having racked up many kilometres in development testing with the C3 R5 during the off season, Stéphane and Gabin come into the rally in particularly good shape. I therefore have great faith in their ability to do the job they have been given, i.e. showcase our new flagship product, even if the Tour de Corse remains an iconic event that must be treated with respect, especially due to its very long stages."
"After a long winter break, and a one-off appearance in France, I'm really looking forward to getting back on the WRC stages. It’s always exciting to compete for the first time in a new car where you have worked on a large part of the development! The C3 R5 is definitely well designed. I feel confident behind the wheel and I can't wait to get the opportunity to show it. I'm expecting it to be an almighty scrap at the front, but having done several days' testing in Corsica, we are certainly well prepared. I have another day of testing scheduled before the start, plus the shakedown, in which to fine-tune the final details."
Number of appearances at the event: 3
Best result: 11th (2015)
TOUR DE CORSE SCHEDULE (GMT+2)
THURSDAY 5 APRIL
8.00am: shakedown (Sorbo Ocagnano)
FRIDAY 6 APRIL
8.00am: Start in Bastia – Place Saint Nicolas
8.40am: Service A (Bastia airport – 15')
9.50am: SS 1 – La Porta – Valle di Rostino 1 (49,03 km)
11.09am: SS 2 – Piedigriggio – Pont de Castirla 1 (13,55 km)
1.47pm: Service B (Bastia airport – 30')
3.12pm: SS 3 – La Porta – Valle di Rostino 2 (49,03 km)
4.31pm: SS 4 – Piedigriggio – Pont de Castirla 2 (13,55 km)
7.01pm: Flexi service C (Bastia airport – 45')
SATURDAY 7 APRIL
6.10am: Start of day 2 and service D (Bastia airport – 15')
7.37am: SS 5 – Cagnano – Pino – Canari 1 (35,61 km)
9.18am: SS 6 – Désert des Agriates 1 (15,45 km)
11.08am: SS 7 – Novella 1 (17,39 km)
1.31pm: Service E (Bastia airport – 30')
3.21pm: SS 8 – Cagnano – Pino – Canari 2 (35,61 km)
5.02pm: SS 9 – Désert des Agriates 2 (15,45 km)
6.39pm: SS 10 – Novella 2 (17,39 km)
8.10pm: Flexi service F (Bastia airport – 45')
SUNDAY 8 APRIL
7.00am: Start of day 3 and service G (Bastia airport – 15’)
9.23am: SS 11 – Vero – Sarrola – Carcopino (55,17 km)
12.18pm: SS 12 – Pénitencier de Coti-Chiavari (16,25 km)
1.33pm: Finish (Ajaccio, avenue de Paris)
3.00pm: Podium (Ajaccio, place du Diamant)