Sebastien Chardonnet will kick off his WRC2 programme on Rally Italia Sardegna next week when he gives the new Citroen DS3 R5 its debut in the World Rally Championship.

Sardinia is the first of a six-round programme in WRC2 for the 2013 WRC3 champion and 2013 Citroen Top Driver winner and in addition to Sardinia, the Frenchman will also compete in Poland, Finland, Germany, France and Great Britain.

"It's quite a big step up for me," said Chardonnet. "I had the chance to take part in the development of the DS3 R5 during the winter and start racking up the miles in a four-wheel drive car. Although I clearly needed some time to adapt, I found my old reflexes came back from when I used to race on circuit. And I really enjoyed driving the car."

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"My aim [now] is to fine-tune my driving style and acquire some experience with the car in the World Championship. I am a real competitor at heart and I always want to win. But you always need to go through a period of learning first, and you can't afford to ignore that. I know that racking up the miles is not only very important for me but for Citroen Racing too. I am treating this first rally with the respect it deserves. I'm very determined to work hard now and hopefully, I'll reap the rewards in the future!"

Marek Nawarecki, customer racing manager for Citroen Racing, meanwhile believes that this new model is an important addition to French manufacturer's line-up of customer racing models.

"It was important to have this kind of four-wheel drive product in our line-up. The driver development approach is now very well established with DS3 R1, DS3 R3 and DS3 R5, right up to the pinnacle, the DS3 WRC. The DS3 R5 is a car that is the perfect training tool for promising young drivers. It gives them the chance to show off their skills in national championships and the European Rally Championship and acquire experience in the World Championship," he stated.

"Sebastien [Chardonnet] also illustrates perfectly what we are trying to put in place, in order to help talented young drivers," Nawarecki added.

"He began his career in the Citroen Racing Trophy before gathering more experience in a DS3 R3. He is the perfect example of a driver that is ready to bloom in WRC2. It's going to be a great challenge for him.

"We hope he will acquire as much experience as possible in Italy to be able to keep improving throughout the season."