French youngster Sebastien Chardonnet is to make his debut in a full-blown World Rally Car on his home round of the WRC next month.
The 23-year-old, who is mentored by Sebastien Loeb's co-driver Daniel Elena, has been taking part in a number of WRC events this season at the wheel of a Citroen
DS3 R3 but will now step up to a DS3 WRC for Rallye de France-Alsace.
Chardonnet and co-driver Thibault de La Haye are the latest youngsters to be backed by the French motorsport governing body the FFSA.
“I can still hardly believe that I will have such a competitive car as the Citroen
DS3 WRC for my home event,” Chardonnet said. “It's like Christmas come early. “We took a careful look at the budget because the costs involved aren't at all the same as they are for a DS3 R3.
“The final decision to enter a Citroen
DS3 WRC for the Rallye de France-Alsace was taken by our partners. They are fully behind the project and it will be an important event for them in terms of visibility, notoriety and media coverage. A number of new investors are involved, too, and I would like to thank all those who have put their faith in us. I hope we will succeed in doing justice to their confidence.”
Elena, winner of eight titles alongside Loeb, said it was important for the youngster to keep his feet on the ground.
“It is important to take things one step at a time because there is so much a young crew has to take on board,” he said. “At the same time, you can't afford to miss a chance… and this is a golden opportunity! Sebastien and Thibault just need to keep their eye on the ball, stay focused and forget the pressure despite the importance of the stakes. I would also like to extend my personal thanks to their partners who have joined forces to turn this plan into reality…”