Citroen has outlined its motorsport plans for the next two years and will step out of the World Rally Championship as a factory squad for 2016 to concentrate on an all-new car for 2017, while simultaneously bringing an end to its World Touring Car Championship commitments after the 2016 campaign.
In a major shake-up announced by Citroen CEO Linda Jackson, the French manufacturer has outlined its plans for the next two seasons and will pull out its factory efforts in WRC for 2016 to give the team 12 months to focus on developing a new rally car ahead of the regulation changes which will be implemented in 2017.
In addition to the changes, the dominant Citroen squad in WTCC will leave the championship at the end of the 2016 season, while Sebastien Loeb has left the team to reduce it to a two-car attack with reigning champion Jose Maria Lopez and Yvan Muller.
“With eight world titles and a record 94 wins, Citroën has certainly enjoyed unrivalled success in the WRC,” Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of the Citroën Brand, said. “Rallying is a fascinating sport, which tests the performance, reliability and solidity of the cars and drivers in some magnificent settings.
“The category is taking off again, with increasingly widespread live television coverage and the arrival of China on the calendar in 2016. In 2017, the appearance of a new generation of cars, which are purported to be very attractive, will coincide with our renewed involvement.
“Everything will therefore be in place for us to write a new chapter in our history. Given the brand's rich heritage, this challenge had to be ambitious. We will however be modest in our approach, gradually stepping up our objectives to the very top.”
Citroen has not ruled out of competing in WRC next year entirely, but says it will be privateer entries rather than factory-backed efforts. No announcement has yet been made on the futures of current Citroen WRC drivers Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke.
The announcement confirms the speculation surrounding Citroen's plans on the international motorsport stage and Citroen Racing Team Principal Yves Matton says the decision has been made 'with a view to managing our resources efficiently'.
“We like the freedom granted to make the cars more spectacular, but also the possibility of reusing development work done on the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC's engine,” Matton said. “With a view to managing our resources efficiently, we have decided to focus all our efforts on designing and developing our new World Rally Car.
“This is why Citroën will not be competing in the 2016 World Rally Championship as a works team. Still determined to make the most of our resources, we will de defending our WTCC titles with a team of two works cars.”