A SHARP LEARNING CURVE FOR THE C3 R5 IN TYPICALLY WELSH CONDITIONS
Despite the unfamiliar road surface and competing in conditions it has yet to meet in testing, the C3 R5 still showed glimpses of its potential in Wales, especially when driven by Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau. The brand's works crew ended the weekend fifth in the WRC2 following a puncture.
With constant changes in grip, greasy and wet gravel roads that become increasingly slippery as more cars complete, to the point where the roads turn into an ice staking rink in places, Wales Rally GB is a truly unique event. It is no surprise then, on the debut outing of the C3 R5 at this highly specific event, that Citroën Racing gathered a huge amount of data during the weekend. Precious information and feedback that will doubtless be very useful to Citroën's racing customers. Stéphane Lefebvre, Citroën's works driver, moved to within striking distance of the leaders in fourth place after the opening stage, before confirming his hopes of a podium with the third fastest time on SS4 (16.95km). Determined to be one of the front-runners, the 26 year-old French ace scored another third fastest time on the repeat of the Penmachno stage, reaching the end of day one in fourth place in the WRC2. Unfortunately, a puncture at the start of day two (SS11) saw him drop down to fifth position in the category. Ole Christian Veiby, the 22 year-old private Norwegian driver making his debut in the C3 R5, took over where Stéphane had left off to set another third fastest time, just 3.8s off the stage-winning time on the twenty-odd kilometres of Dyfi. His impressive performance provided further evidence that Citroën's new flagship model is easy to get to grips with, even in the most difficult racing conditions. Whilst working on improving the set-up of his car in conjunction with the technical team, Stéphane maintained his good form on Sunday, grabbing another third fastest time, tied with Veiby, and finishing the weekend in fifth place in the WRC2. Meanwhile, Simone Tempestini, Citroën's second private customer competing in Wales, ended the rally in seventh position. As regards Ole Christian Veiby, he ended the rally in eleventh position, having rejoined under Rally 2 rules on Sunday after breaking a suspension component in an impact (SS15).
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"It is almost impossible to reproduce the highly specific conditions of this rally in testing. We learned a lot this weekend, whilst enjoying exceptional reliability and managing to show promising speed on a few occasions. It has been a useful new experience and one that will help us to keep improving."
"Although obviously I had been hoping to do better than fifth place, I'm pleased to have made it to the end without making any mistakes and scored some points, whilst continuing to work on the set-up of the C3 R5. We still have some fine-tuning to do, but it is important to rack up the miles on this kind of surface, because that's what has helped us to clearly identify the areas we need to keep working on."