Citroen team boss Yves Matton insists that no-one is irreplaceable as the team prepares to head into the opening round of the 2013 WRC this weekend in Monte Carlo – a season that will see it compete without Sebastien Loeb on a full-time basis.
Loeb will take part in just four events this season, the first of which is this weekend, meaning Citroen will be hoping to see Mikko Hirvonen launch a bid for the championship crown.
With Loeb and Dani Sordo competing alongside the Finn, Citroen will have to juggle three top crews during the season ahead but Matton said it wasn't something that gave him any cause for concern.
“The team has always been organised in such a way that no-one is irreplaceable,” he said. “I think we are lucky to be able to count on Seb and Daniel at a few events. Quite apart from the points contribution we can expect from such a crew, their presence will allow us to make the transition gradually. Mikko will be able to take on the role of number one in relaxed fashion and Dani will be able to get back into the swing of things at the first two rallies before competing as one of the works drivers in Mexico.
“Just as in previous years, we will be aiming to win the Drivers' and Manufacturers' World Championships. We will be doing all we can to ensure that Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen succeed Sebastien and Daniel as world champions. They have finished as World Championship runners-up in four out of the last five years, so I think we can therefore say that they are ready to take the final step.
“I think we have three quick and reliable crews, all capable of scoring big points at each rally. That will be the key to winning a ninth Manufacturers' title.”
Despite carrying the hopes of the team, Hirvonen said he was ready for the challenge ahead and was more motivated than ever before going into the season opener.
“The team wants to defend both world titles and they are counting on me for the Drivers' title,” he said. “I feel ready to take on this responsibility. In fact, I have never felt so motivated at the start of a season.
“However, I don't intend to change my approach to the rallies. As they say, more haste, less speed... I feel very confident in the DS3 WRC, but this is not the only factor that matters if you want to win in Monte- Carlo. You have to make the right – or the wrong – tyres choices, push at the right time and know when to let a few seconds go in some sections. The team has an enormous amount of experience on these roads and I think that we are very well placed to start the year with a good result.”