SUCCESSFUL MAIDEN OUTING FOR THE C3 R5!
With two stage wins for Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau at the heart of the fight for the lead in the WRC2, and a fine second overall in the category for Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud, the C3 R5 showed the full extent of its potential on some of the most demanding tarmac stages in the world.
Giving the C3 R5 its competitive debut at an event as difficult as the Tour de Corse was a bold gamble. The event is known as the ""Rally of 10,000 Corners" with good reason and its wide range of difficulties and road surfaces made it the perfect full-scale test bench. The gamble nonetheless paid off from the get go, on the demanding La Porta – Valle di Rostino stage, almost fifty kilometres in length: Yoann Bonato, the 2017 French champion, incorporated in the works team for this round, grabbed the second fastest time in the WRC2 class, just three tenths off the pace. It was then the turn of Stéphane Lefebvre, the Citroën Racing works driver having been held up on SS1 by an issue with his brakes, to produce a stunning performance and secure the C3 R5's maiden stage win of its fledgling competitive career. A result that proved beyond any doubt that Citroën's latest customer racing product has been well designed! That feeling only grew when Stéphane Lefebvre confirmed his good form by claiming another stage win on SS4 to move up to fourth place at the end of the leg, whilst Bonato finished the opening day in second position, just 20.8s off the lead. Unfortunately , Saturday began with a fatal off (SS5) for Lefebvre. Although Bonato also made two mistakes, he nonetheless consolidated his second position. On Sunday, he then came through the remaining stages, not least the rally's longest test (55.17 kilometres), held between Vero, Sarrola and Carcopino, to seal a fine performance and secure the C3 R5's first podium in the WRC2. A podium that rewards the hard work put in by the development team since September 2017 – when the car completed its first road tests – and which shall hopefully be the first of many!
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
"This first outing of the C3 R5 has been really promising, despite a few inevitable teething problems but there's just no substitute for competitive experience. Stéphane was able to win stages in normal conditions against the established names in the category, so it's a shame that his rally was cut short. Meanwhile, Yoann was both consistent and fast, securing a deserved first podium, which will encourage us to redouble our efforts in order to do even better."
"Obviously, I'm disappointed that my race came to a premature end, but there are some positives to take away from this weekend. First and foremost, the performance level of the car, which enabled us to win two of the four stages we finished. The potential of the car is unquestionable and I have no doubt that we will be able to fight for category wins very quickly."
"Clearly, we hoped to secure a result like this, we had done everything to give ourselves the best chance but we couldn't be sure that we could do it, especially at such an iconic rally. I'm particularly pleased with this successful debut. The C3 R5 handled really well on these very demanding stages. We'll now be able to keep working in order to make it even more formidable."