Yves Matton has admitted Citroën may have a new driver in place for 2018 by the end of next month, with many candidates under consideration by the French manufacturer for next season.
Citroën have endured a difficult season to date, with only two podiums to their name and remaining the only manufacturer not to secure multiple rally victories this year.
To address their performance deficit to other teams, Matton indicated he will be looking to the driver market to help with their level of competitiveness for next season.
“I think everyone knows that the next month is likely to be a busy period as regards driver transfers,” he said. “As is the case with the development of the car, the priority is to prepare for 2018.
“We now have a break in the WRC calendar, so we are going to use the month of September to draw up our strategy. In doing so, we are talking to the drivers who could help us to reach our goals. For the time being, nothing has been decided.”
A prime candidate for next year is Andreas Mikkelsen, who has competed in three rallies for the team this year and secured a runner-up finish at Rally Deutschland last weekend. The Norwegian was a casualty of the abruptly disbanded Volkswagen factory program, and is a free agent following his third single-rally deal ending on Sunday.
However, Mikkelsen’s agent has previously made clear that discussions have been held with all four manufacturer teams present in the championship, and even participated in a test for Hyundai in April, though talks with the Korean manufacturer appear to have died down since.
Nine time world champion Sébastien Loeb has also been tipped for a surprise return to competition, and while Matton made clear he would not be racing for Citroën in 2017, he did not deny the possibility of comeback next season.
“There is no chance to do any rallies for him for the moment in 2017,” he told the WRC website earlier this month. “I think we have to see what his plans are first. I think the only next step that we can see for the moment is a gravel test.”
There has been speculation over a potential seat-sharing arrangement between current drivers Craig Breen and Stephane Lefebvre, the latter of which was benched for the previous two rounds of the championship to make way for Mikkelsen and Khalid Al Qassimi respectively. Matton however was quick to reaffirm his faith in Breen, having secured his sixth top five finish of the season in Germany.
“After a promising season in 2016, Craig has confirmed that he deserves his place among the elite of world rallying,” he said. “This series of six fifth places shows his ability to manage races from start to finish.”