The new Citroen C3 R5 is to make its competitive debut on the Tour De Corse next weekend.
Having been in development by the French manufacturer for the last 18 months, the new R5-spec machine is set to compete in its first WRC2 event with former WRC-driver Stéphane Lefebvre behind the wheel.
After competing in the WRC on several occasions in 2017, the Frenchman will kick off his 2018 WRC2 campaign in France before completing a seven-event campaign aboard the new car this season with the aim of winning the title.
The new car features a 1.6 litre turbocharged engine designed by Citroen producing 282bhp and it has covered some 6000km of testing since it was first developed, with testing having been completed across a variety of surfaces and different weather conditions.
François Wales, Citroen Racing Development Director said on the new car: “Although the overall timing left us very little room for error, everything went well. We started work on preliminary project drawings at the end of 2016, but we didn’t really begin proper design work, based on the C3, until January 2017, the first road tests being held in September 2017.”
He added: “We haven’t had any issues with any of the major components since then. Engine endurance tests were completed without incident and we now have what is beginning to feel like a reasonable number of testing miles under our belt.”
“We have tested on pretty much all types of tarmac and have defined a good basic set-up. The same goes for gravel, where we have held sessions at a wide variety of test bases. We are now going to use this year to fine-tune our set-up at specific events such as Monte-Carlo, Sweden, Finland, Wales GB and Germany.”
While Lefebvre commented on the event: “”After a long winter break, and a one-off appearance in France, I’m really looking forward to getting back on the WRC stages. It’s always exciting to compete for the first time in a new car where you have worked on a large part of the development!”
He also said: “The C3 R5 is definitely well designed. I feel confident behind the wheel and I can’t wait to get the opportunity to show it. I’m expecting it to be an almighty scrap at the front, but having done several days’ testing in Corsica, we are certainly well prepared. I have another day of testing scheduled before the start, plus the shakedown, in which to fine-tune the final details.”
Two other C3 R5’s are set to appear at the event next weekend, with French Rally Champion Yoann Bonato set to enter a privately ran machine, but with the aid of Citroen Racing to help develop the car across the weekend, while Citroen test driver Alex Bengué will drive a third C3 as a #0 car on the event.
The 2018 Tour de Corse takes place next weekend between April 5-8.