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Q&A - Olivier Quesnel, Citroen Racing

Citroen team boss Olivier Quesnel looks ahead to the 2011 WRC season
Q:
What's the overall feeling at the start of the coming season? Are you impatient, relaxed or worried?

Olivier Quesnel:
I wouldn't say that we feel particularly relaxed! It's true that I'm looking forward to being in Sweden to find answers to all the questions that we're asking ourselves at the moment. Have we done a good job? Have we missed out on something? We'll only know a part of the answers at the end of the opening stages, but it should be remembered that Sweden is not really representative of the world championship as a whole. We also have to keep a cool head. Citroen Racing is a proven winning machine, and there's no reason why it should go on the blink from one day to the next. I have every confidence in the team's work, but we're very impatient to take the start of the Swedish Rally!

Q:
Do you think you can handle the rivalry between Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier?

Olivier Quesnel:
It'll be easy in Sweden! Both drivers are starting off with a blank score sheet. As was always the case in the past, Citroen is giving them absolutely identical cars. If one sets a better time than the other it's simply because he's quicker. I'm not the kind of guy who puts himself under pressure: I don't have to cope with any rivalry at the moment. What I can tell you is that we all belong to the same family. While the drivers' title is a bit more prestigious and receives more media coverage, the manufacturers' crown has considerable importance for the make. Our two drivers are intelligent guys and they're fully aware of what's at stake for Citroen.

Q:
Citroen Racing Technologies is putting three DS3 WRCs at the disposal of private drivers. What's the aim of this?

Olivier Quesnel:
While awaiting the arrival of new manufacturers in the WRC, I think it's Citroen's duty to help improve the appeal of the championship. That's why we're happy with the agreements reached with Petter Solberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Peter van Merksteijn. Citroen Racing's ultimate aim is not to rent out cars, but we're proud to be able to count these drivers as part of our family.

Q:
Citroen Racing's activities are not limited to the WRC alone. 2010 was marked by the unveiling of the DS3 R3 and the DS3 Racing. What conclusions have you drawn from these launches?

Olivier Quesnel:
The DS3 R3 is the continuation of a long line of cars aimed at privateers. In just a few months it has become the new benchmark in its category. From a sales point of view this has resulted in a much greater number of orders compared to what we expected. We're delighted with the success of the DS3 R3 for which we've provided a showcase by organizing the Citroen Racing Trophies all over Europe. The DS3 Racing has also been a success. The 2000 cars made were all sold in a few days, and we're now thinking about increasing the annual production.

Q:
What are the perspectives in these two domains?

Olivier Quesnel:
Designing series production sports models is a new activity for Citroen Racing, and it provides the make with fresh perspectives by opening up new markets. Boosted by the success of the DS3 Racing, we're thinking about adapting other models in the DS range. Concerning the competition/client department we're interested in a possible 'FIA R4' set of regulations, which will help to develop R3-type cars with 4-wheel drive. It would be a fantastic tool for training young drivers.

Q:
The 'FFSA Rallye Jeunes' operation for detecting and training young hopefuls has often been put forward as a benchmark for this type of initiative. Today, Citroen has announced a partnership with the French Motor Sports Federation to revive this scheme. Why?

Olivier Quesnel:
I think it's a totally logical association. By entering Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier in the World Rally Championship, Citroen is making young French people dream as they thrill to their feats. With 'Rallye Jeunes', a concept developed by the FFSA, we're going to provide them with the opportunity to touch this dream with their fingers by giving them the chance to prove themselves at the wheel of a DS3. For the most gifted the path is already laid out right up to the top. I'd also add that 'Rallye Jeunes' is a fantastic marketing operation, as it will enable thousands of youngsters to go to the Citroen dealerships and discover our make's world.

Q:
Can you give some more information about the conditions?

Olivier Quesnel:
The sporting process is decided by the FFSA: the participants must be between 18 and 25 years of age. Six regional competitions in France will decide the best drivers who will qualify for a national final. The official launch of the operation should take place at the 2011 French Rally, and the two winners will be awarded a 6-race programme in the French Rally Championship.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Citroen DS3 WRC [Pic credit: Citroen Racing]
Citroen DS3 WRC [Pic credit: Citroen Racing]
Citroen DS3 WRC [Pic credit: Citroen Racing]
Sebastien Ogier collects his WRC champion`s trophy at the FIA Prizegiving in Doha
Sebastien Ogier and VW celebrate at the FIA Prizegiving
Mads Ostberg, Jonas Andersson (Citroen DS3 WRC, #4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC, #3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Mads Ostberg, Jonas Andersson (Citroen DS3 WRC, #4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Mads Ostberg, Jonas Andersson (Citroen DS3 WRC, #4 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC, #3 Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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