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Q&A - Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, Citroen Racing

Citroen technical director Xavier Mestelan-Pinon looks ahead to the 2011 season
Q:
What's happened since the unveiling of the Citroen DS3 WRC at the Paris Motor Show last October?

Xavier Mestelan-Pinon:
Our priority has been to rack up the kilometres in testing in all kinds of conditions. Thanks to the construction of a second DS3 WRC for test purposes we've been able to organize a session every fortnight. These tests have allowed us to work on reliability, and also to get to know the car, how it reacts to setup changes etc. As time passed we froze the technical definition of the car. These past few weeks we've been concentrating on what might look like details, but which aren't – quite the opposite, in fact - like the positioning of the safety equipment and the FIA management systems, the installation of the crews and training them how work on the car outside the service parks. Our main difficulty has been trying to find hot weather conditions to work in: we managed to find some heat in the south of Europe.

Q:
Have you any worries about the car's reliability?

Xavier Mestelan-Pinon:
I think we've done a pretty good job considering the time we've had at our disposal to bring this project to fruition. Obviously, risks exist. Don't forget that the DS3 WRC is a completely new car, unlike the C4 which was derived from the Xsara.

Q:
The most recent change was the tyres. What impact has this had on the development of the car?

Xavier Mestelan-Pinon:
As Michelin has been one of Citroen's historic partners, first of all I have to say how delighted I am to be working with this manufacturer again and a part of its engineering team. This enthusiasm in no way detracts from how satisfied we feel about the three years we spent with our previous partner. The profile of the Michelin tyres is fundamentally different, so we've had to revise quite a few things in the area of the geometry of the running gear, the stiffness of the suspension, camber, anti-roll bars etc. The Michelin tyres are quick and they behave very precisely, particularly on asphalt.

Q:
Do you think that these new world rally cars will be more spectacular than the previous ones?

Xavier Mestelan-Pinon:
The smaller size will reduce the inertia. With no central differential, the cars will move about more under braking, even on asphalt. The engine will rev higher and make more noise. The absence of the semi-automatic gear selection will oblige the drivers to battle a bit more with the steering wheel. I'd say that these cars will be more fun to watch for the spectators.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Citroen DS3 WRC [Pic credit: Citroen Racing]
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