Yves Matton: “I think rally fans are going to like the new generation of WRCs”

Citroën Racing director Yves Matton believes the new 2017-spec FIA World Rally Championship car from the French manufacturer will please rally fans throughout the world after witnessing the new car undergo its first official test.

“It is very much in line with what we had imagined when we talked about the new regulations,” said Matton, “which were devised to make the cars more spectacular. All the factors we had wanted to improve – the noise, impression of speed and aggressive design – are already in evidence, even though this was only the car’s very first test outing! I think rally fans are going to like the new generation of WRCs.

The car was given its first test in anger by factory driver Kris Meeke last week, marking a major milestone for the project. “It is one of the major stages in a project of this size. The lead-times established for the design phase were very tight.

“Thanks to its expertise and experience, the team has done a fantastic job to design a car based on the new regulations. Having seen our World Rally Car begin road testing on schedule and complete runs without experiencing any major problems, we can take our time in confirming the upcoming milestones. Once again, what the men and women at Citroën Racing have achieved is quite exceptional.”

Matton also highlighted the changes in safety aspects on the new car and the importance of protecting competitors. “The FIA has been working on improving safety for a number of years and we are supportive of this approach. As far as we’re concerned, we have always been something of a pioneer in this field, even if it has meant imposing additional restrictions on ourselves. It will be no different with this car, which will be even safer than its predecessor.”

In recent years Citroën have focused their efforts on the World Touring Car Championship programme which has seen them dominate the field, Matton believes this will help them as they continue to develop the new rally car.

“We have never strayed far from the WRC and have been constantly updating our knowledge base. Our WTCC programme will be a bonus, because it will enable us to have a different approach. Before, we had virtually no real experience in aerodynamics.

“It is now a field in which we have genuine expertise. Similarly, we have an engine that has been running for more than two years with a similar power level and lifespan to those stipulated in the WRC specifications. All of this will be beneficial for the rest of the development phase and when it comes to running the car.

“We are going to continue testing on gravel and then we’ll begin testing on tarmac. One of the key stages will be the point at which we set the technical definition to start building the cars that will be competing in 2017.” he added.