Dutch rally driver Peter van Merksteijn Jr will drive a Citroen DS3 WRC run by Citroen Racing in the 2011 World Rally Championship.
Van Merksteijn Jr will start ten rounds of the championship in the car, which is being developed by Citroen for next year's new World Rally Car regulations. The 28-year-old will receive full support from the factory team.
He will be joined on some rounds by his father, Peter van Merksteijn Sr, driving another DS3 WRC. The pair have competed on multiple events in the WRC in recent years in Ford Focus WRCs. In addition to this, Peter Sr and his Van Merksteijn Motorsport team have competed at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the LMP2 category in 2008 in a Porsche RS Spyder alongside Jos Verstappen and Jeroen Bleekemolen. Peter Sr also competed in the Dakar Rally in 2009 in an X-Raid BMW.
Peter Jr is pleased to have been given this opportunity. “The last few years I was unable to free myself enough from my full business schedule to drive rallies, and when I drive I want to do that the right way or not at all,” he explained. “For 2011 I will be fully dedicated to the rally sport since I have been given the unique chance to drive a factory car.
Gerard Grouve, team director of Van Merksteijn Motorsport, said: “Last year we won the Dutch rally title with Bernhard Ten Brinke and this year we have focused on preparing for the 2011 WRC season. The regulations for next year have changed dramatically and we wanted to be fully prepared at the start of the season. However, the available options were limited as there are only a few WRC cars available for next season. Therefore we are very excited that Peter van Merksteijn Jr has the unique opportunity to enter in the WRC with an official factory car of CitroÃ«n Racing, the DS3 WRC.”
He added: “In preparation for the 2011 WRC season, Peter Jr will be testing with CitroÃ«n Racing several times where he have the chance to learn a lot from the other CitroÃ«n factory drivers, seven times World champion Sebastien Loeb and super talent Sebastien Ogier.”
The deal raises question marks over Petter Solberg and Kimi Raikkonen's chances of driving for Citroen next year. Citroen Racing boss Olivier Quesnel had previously insisted that there would only be four DS3 WRCs in action in 2011.
Van Merksteijn Jr will be one of two Dutchmen to compete regualarly in the 2011 WRC in a factory-supported team, with Dennis Kuipers recently confirmed to be driving a Ford Fiesta RS WRC run by his father Rene's Ipatec Racing team and supported by M-Sport.