26 September 2014
WRC: Citroen gives young stars DS3 test
Four of rallying's hottest young prospects got the chance to try out on of its most potent weapons, courtesy of Citroen's Yves Matton.
Sébastien Chardonnet, Stéphane Lefebvre, Martin Koci and Laurent Laskowski each got the chance to try Citroen's potent DS3 WRC as part of a media event at the Issoire track in France.
Like the journalists attending the event, the young drivers were able to get into the DS3 WRC alongside regular pilots Mads Østberg and Kris Meeke, but got an extra insight when Yves Matton, Citroën Racing team principal, then invited them to take a spin in the two-time World Championship-winning car.
After winning the WRC3 championship and the Citroën Top Driver series last season, Chardonnet is this year competing in the WRC2 in a Citroën DS3 R5. Although he had taken part in the 2012 Rallye de France in a DS3 WRC, this test run on gravel nonetheless served up plenty of new experiences.
“I can't help but compare how it feels to drive this car with how it feels to drive the DS3 R5,” he commented, “The power is incredible! It's really great to have had the chance to drive the DS3 WRC again. It's a very accomplished car. Even on the really slippery surface of the roads on our test base, I very quickly found my bearings. I think you can get comfortable behind the wheel very quickly. I'd like to say a big thank you to the team and to Yves Matton for having given me this opportunity.”
Current leader of the FIA Junior WRC with three wins in four rallies, Lefebvre was able to cover several hundred kilometres in the DS3 R5 before testing the DS3 WRC.
“These tests are always too short!” he admitted, “I felt on the pace straight away. Although I don't know my times and there's no point comparing them with the other drivers, I can say that I had a really good feeling in the car. It has been a fantastic experience. Now I just have to do everything I can to make it happen again!”
Second in the FIA Junior WRC ahead of the final two events of the season, Koci had travelled from Slovakia to take part in the Citroën Racing Experience. He had the chance to try out the DS3 R5 on tarmac and gravel before hopping inside the DS3 WRC.
“It's the best car in the world!” he exclaimed, “Everything works perfectly: the engine, the transmission, the chassis and suspension… I have never had the opportunity to drive such a fast car. I felt at home very quickly in the cockpit of the DS3 WRC.”
Winner of the FFSA's 'Rallye Jeunes' initiative in 2012, Laskowski produced some fine performances last season in a DS3 R1 and a DS3 R3 in the promotional formulas organised Citroën Racing. After a session in a DS3 R5, he too had the chance to drive the DS3 WRC during the tests.
“It was an incredible experience - I didn't want it to end,” he confessed, “This car's acceleration, grip, brakes, damper systems, and so on are incredibly efficient. Everything is perfect!”
Matton, as the man behind the sessions, had the same broad smile as the talented youngsters from the Citroën Racing driver development programme.
“First of all, sitting alongside two of the best drivers in the WRC gave them the chance to assess how far they still have to go,” he explained, “And the experience that they had when they drove the DS3 WRC on gravel is undoubtedly just the first step of the journey. They all still need to improve their own level to meet new targets. We are well aware that their goal is to secure a WRC drive in the near future… And we make no secret of the fact we would love to find the future stars of the World Rally Championship, as Citroën Racing has done in the past with other drivers who went before them.”
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