Citroen Racing Team Principal Pierre Budar admitted that his team had a “better second half of the season” and praised both of his crews, Mads Østberg and Torstein Eriksen and Craig Breen and Scott Martin following last weekend’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia.
The French team for 2019 have signed six time World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier from the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team as well as Esapekka Lappi from the Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, but Budar wanted to focus on what happened following the final round of the French squads 2018 campaign.
He said on the 2018 season: “Obviously, we have had our fair share of highs and lows. I would say that the second half of the season was quite a bit better, with our podiums in Finland (2nd) and here, plus our win in Spain. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to state my heartfelt thanks to both Mads and Torstein as well as Craig and Scott, for their support this season.”
“They have always given everything and made a substantial contribution to turning things around in the second half of the season. We’ve also established strong ties with them this year. An underlying trend has been established in the team’s way of working, and I think that means we can look forward to 2019 in a more confident and relaxed frame of mind.”
He added: “Although we are still undergoing transformation, and to complete this we need to keep working hard and improving further, things are gradually being put in place and are certainly heading in the right direction.”
The final round of the 2018 WRC saw Østberg finish third while Breen salvaged seventh following an accident on the second day of action and Budar commented: “Clearly, we’re pleased with this new podium, following on from our win in Spain. In particular, we had an excellent opening leg, making the absolute maximum of our good road position, with our cars holding the top two positions at the end of day one. Although things didn’t go quite as well on Saturday with a few mistakes, Mads nonetheless managed to stay within striking distance of the podium.”
“We knew that, given the type of stages contested on Sunday and the weather forecast, anything could still happen on the final leg. Whilst the treacherous driving conditions caught out several crews, Mads showed his confidence in the C3 WRC, producing an extremely solid performance to seize third place.”
The 2019 FIA World Rally Championship gets underway with Rallye Monte-Carlo, taking place between January 24-27.