DS3 WRCS returns to tarmac
After six gravel rounds, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team returns to the tarmac surfaces of Rallye Deutschland.Two DS3 WRCs have been entered for Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson. Citroën Racing has enjoyed a World Championship record of eleven consecutive wins at Rallye Deutschland.
CITROËN AND RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND: A 100% WIN RATE
Rallye Deutschland first ran in 1982. The rally moved to its current base in Trier in 2000. Citroën Racing has remained unbeaten at the event since 2001, the year before it joined the WRC calendar.
The first win for Citroën at Rallye Deutschland came in the 2001 European Rally Championship. Victory was claimed by Philippe Bugalski and Jean-Paul Chiaroni in a Citroën Xsara WRC. Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena won their first top-level rally here in 2002, the first year Germany was included in the WRC calendar.
In the Xsara WRC and the C4 WRC, the Franco-Monegasque crew claimed eight consecutive wins. Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia took up the mantle in 2011 in the DS3 WRC, before Loeb and Elena took one final victory here in 2012. Last year, the winning run continued thanks to Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, also in a DS3 WRC.
LOWER RIDE HEIGHT, HARDER SHOCK ABSORBERS AND BIGGER BRAKES FOR THE DS3 WRCS
Over the next two months, three of the four rallies will be held on tarmac. This surface requires very specific parts and set-ups, the likes of which have consistently given the cars prepared in Versailles an advantage over their rivals.
“For everyone – the technicians, the engineers and the crews – it’s an important point of the season,” emphasised Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal.
“We need to get to grips again with conditions that we haven’t experienced since the Rallye de France in October 2013. Testing will be just as important for the drivers as the rest of the team. You need to re-hone some of your reflexes again to prepare for this first round of the season on tarmac. Rallye Deutschland is especially important for Citroën in that we are on a run of eleven consecutive wins.”
The DS3 WRCs are not very different to those driven recently in Sardinia, Poland and Finland. “They are the same cars,” confirmed Didier Clément, the DS3 WRC’s Chief Operations Engineer. “Given that we are limited to six chassis per season for both crews, there is no specific body shell for the tarmac rounds. The only differences concern the level of the struts, the shock absorbers, the brakes, the wishbones and the tie-rods.”
Preparations began with a tried and tested set-up on the banks of the Mosel and at the Baumholder military base: “The car has to be easy to drive so the drivers feel confident to push on the quick stages through the vineyards,” explained Clément. “We have also tried to develop our knowledge of how the tyres respond in varying weather conditions. During the race itself, one of the key aspects will involve having accurate weather forecasts. In the last ten years, Rallye Deutschland has been contested on completely dry roads on very few occasions.”
A NEW CHAPTER FOR MADS ØSTBERG
Mads Østberg has proved that he is competitive on all road surfaces, with podium finishes in Sweden, Portugal and Italy. Having completed two rallies without scoring a point, the Norwegian will be looking to put an end to his poor run in Germany: “Although we had good pace, I was obviously disappointed with the final outcome at the last two rallies. Rallye Deutschland should give me the chance to put this bad run behind me. I like driving on tarmac, and the more miles I cover, the more comfortable I feel. With four appearances here under my belt, I’m beginning to feel I’m pretty experienced on the stages.”
Currently fourth in the World Championship standings, Mads will be competing at his first tarmac rally in the DS3 WRC: “I have a lot of faith in the team. The car has always been quick on this surface. Now it’s up to me to produce the goods to have a chance of a strong result. If everything goes well, I think we can aim for a top-five finish.”
KRIS MEEKE HASN’T FORGOTTEN HOW TO DRIVE ON TARMAC
Although he has never driven in Germany in the DS3 WRC, Kris Meeke is delighted to be back on tarmac in the car in which he finished third at Monte-Carlo. “I haven’t competed in an all-tarmac rally for three years,” explains the Northern Irishman. “But it all comes back to you quickly; it’s like riding a bike. I know that the DS3 WRC is competitive and that the team knows the rally perfectly. I have everything I need to do well here.”
Whilst he has missed the rally for the last two years, Kris has already performed well in Germany, collecting a podium and a win in the JWRC almost ten years ago: “I have some very fond memories of competing here in the C2 Super 1600 and of my experience in the WRC in 2011. There are three very different types of road. The pace is constantly changing. I’ll have to get to grips with some things in the DS3 WRC, but I hope I can pick up where I left off in Finland.”
FROM THE VINEYARDS TO PANZERPLATTE
The shakedown for Rallye Deutschland gets underway on Thursday, 21 August at 09:30. Each crew must complete at least two runs on Konz, a 4.55km test located close to the Messepark service park. The ceremonial start will be held in front of the Porta Nigra in Trier. Following an autograph-signing session at 19:00, the competitors will drive their cars into parc ferme after stopping off on the podium.
On Friday, the cars will head west, running in the order of the World Championship standings. Not far from Luxembourg, Sauertal (14.14km – 08:38/14:42), already contested in 2013, will be followed by Waxmeiler (16.40km – 09:56/16:00), a brand new stage close to the Belgian border, and then Moselland (21.02km – 11:19/17:23), completed in the opposite direction to last year.
Saturday’s leg will begin towards the east, with Stein & Wein (17.53km – 07:38/14:31), still in the vineyards, and then Peterberg (11.08km – 08:38/15:31) and its many changes of direction. The loop will then continue in the Baumholder military base. This year, two stages will feature in this unique setting on the WRC calendar: firstly, a short stage, Arena Panzerplatte (3.03km – 09:51/16:44), and then the huge Panzerplatte Lang (42.51km – 10:06/16:59) with Hinkelsteins and the famous Gina’s jump.
The schedule for the final day features two stages, located to the north-east of Trier, each run twice: Dhrontal (18.03km – 07:28/10:55) and Grafschaft (19.27km – 08:04/12:08), which will be the Power Stage on the second pass. The rally is scheduled to finish at Porta Nigra from 14:30.