The Wales Rally GB is the thirteenth and final round of the 2014 WRC season and for the Citroën team, the round sees them return to a circuit where past successes have come often.
It was the C4 WRC that saw the brand score its first overall win. Between 2008 and 2010, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena racked up three consecutive wins.
In 2014, the team hope that the rally will see Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle secure second place for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team in the Manufacturers’ standings.
For Østberg his runner up finish in 2011, along with his three podium finishes this year, has him confident.
“It feels like I now have quite a lot of experience at this event,” he said. “It’s a difficult rally. Bad weather and fog can add other risks. Starting with recce, we increase the details in the pace notes so we can maintain high speeds even when visibility is poor. The aim is to finish on the podium again.”
In the other DS3, Meeke may not be local but as a Brit, he has the experience to help him feel at home.
“It’s the closest I get to a home rally in the WRC,” he said. “It would be great to finish the season on a positive note. I know I’ll get plenty of support from the many fans who would love to see me win. I’m going to do my best to acquire as much experience as possible, but I think that a podium finish is a realistic goal.”
It won’t be easy for the team, with the Welsh climate sure to throw up challenges for the team according to Didier Clément, the DS3 WRC’s Chief Operations Engineer.
“No other round is particularly similar to it,” he said. “It’s the rally where you can get the most rain and the most mud. The roads are therefore very specific. And the grip can change all the time! Sometimes, grip levels can be fine. But when the road surface features muddy, greasy stones, the grip can be virtually non-existent.”
Clément also touched on the challenge of the gravel, along with the need for the perfect set-up for efficiency and grip.
“There is no magic solution,” he said. “The mud gets stuck to the car and cannot be removed without outside intervention. You can take on up to 100 kilograms of extra weight! There isn’t much vertical clearance and there are huge needs in terms of grip, but we can’t afford to sacrifice accuracy. It’s a difficult balance to get right, but we’ll be able to use our experience from previous years.”