by Rob Wilkins
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH XAVIER MESTELAN-PINON: CLICK HERE
Xavier Mestelan-Pinon is the technical director at the Citroen Total World Rally Team and it is his job to try to design the best car possible by managing a team of over 100 people so that Sebastien Loeb and Dani Sordo can go for wins.
We caught up with him at the end of October
and here he speaks exclusively to Rallycourse
and Crash.net Radio
about his role, the challenges it encompasses and more...
Xavier, Citroen switched this year to using the C4 WRC. What has made it so good and how does it differ in relation to the Citroen Xsara WRC?
Everybody wants to know that! Today we work with the C4 and everybody changes their cars. I prefer to speak about the present. What can I say about that? Currently we are second in the world championship for drivers' and manufacturers'. I think the car is fast but the reliability is maybe not enough at the moment. However we have good performance if we compare it to the other manufacturers.
What are the main strengths of the C4?
I don't know. Let's ask the drivers. It is very difficult to answer that question. You need a lot of things to make a good car – good engine, good balance, good gearbox, good shock absorbers, good traction, good reliability and so on. I don't know what the main strength of the C4 is - and even if I knew I couldn't to tell you that of course!
How does it compare mechanically to the Xsara?
At the beginning the C4 had the same engine, the same gearbox and the same shock absorber [as the Xsara]. For next year we will use a new engine. Until December 2007 we will use engine 'EQ' and at the beginning of 2008 - and I don't know exactly when - we will use engine 'EW'.
Was there much work to do in switching the fully-active C4 (which the car was originally) over to a car with mechanical front and rear diffs and only an active centre?
It was exactly the same job that we did on the Xsara - and because we use the same gearbox and the same rear axle it was very easy for us to switch between both technologies. When we changed the differentials the only problem was to find the right set-up.
How does the C4 compare in your opinion to the cars of your rivals, the Ford Focus and the Subaru Impreza?