Citroen have confirmed that they will retain their trio of world champions Jose Maria Lopez, Yvan Muller and Sebastien Loeb for the 2015 WTCC, and will enter two further cars for the latter’s own team.
Lopez has delivered the 2014 title at his and Citroen’s first attempt, finishing ahead of four-time WTCC champion Muller and nine-time World Rally Champion Loeb.
Citroen Racing boss Yves Matton explained that the decision to retain the trio was an straightforward one.
“We were completely satisfied with our drivers, and they didn’t have any thoughts of going elsewhere, so it was easy to sort out,” said Matton.
“Jose Maria Lopez has had the perfect season this year, thanks to his unwavering commitment. He has blazed a trail for a new generation of drivers, but now he will have to defend his title, and he will be up against some highly motivated rivals, not least his own teammates.
“Despite his unflagging efforts throughout the year, Yvan Muller has really been short of success, and he is eager to start afresh next season and go after a fifth world title.
“After achieving his first race wins in the discipline this year, Sebastien Loeb will be looking to do even better next season. Switching from rallying to track racing was a huge challenge to take on, but he has already shown that he has all the qualities necessary to become one of the best drivers in the competition.”
Two extra Citroen C-Elysse cars will be fielded by Sebastien Loeb Racing, who have previously competed internationally in the FIA GT Series and European Le Mans Series.
“Since it was created, SLR has amassed real know-how at international circuits, in both GT and sports prototype racing,” said Loeb. “The FIA WTCC marks a new stage in the team’s development.
“I didn’t have to think for very long when the opportunity presented itself for the 2015 season. Since the new TC1s were introduced, the championship has been attracting more and more interest, and it’s great for Sebastien Loeb Racing to be involved.”
Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua has contested five rounds in a fourth factory car this season – winning on his debut weekend in Moscow – but although he has been left out of the works team line-up for 2015, Matton says they are working on putting him into one of the SLR cars.
Matton said: “Entrusting the two private Citroen C-Elysee WTCCs to SLR was an obvious choice. The two cars will be good-as-new reconditioned 2014 chassis, complete with all the developments we introduce next season.”
“It’s now up to the team to finalise its agreements as far as its drivers are concerned, but we are all working together to make it possible for Ma Qing Hua to continue his FIA WTCC career with Citroen. His performances have shown that he deserves the chance to race a full season in 2015.”