Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT has unveiled its 2017 WRC car as it launches its return as a fully-fledged factory effort next season.
Citroen opted to step out of WRC in 2016 and only enter selected rounds to concentrate its efforts on developing next year's new C3 WRC machine ahead of the regulation revamp.
Earlier this year Citroen confirmed its four entry line-up in WRC of Kris Meeke, Stephane Lefebvre, Craig Breen and Khalid Al-Qassimi.
Despite a truncated 2016 split between WRC outings and developing Citroen's new car, Meeke recorded to wins in Portugal and Finland respectively. Breen also reached the rostrum in Finland with third place and Lefebvre's best effort saw him finish fifth at Rally Monte Carlo.
Upon its full factory return to WRC, Citroen is revealed its new car in a presentation flanked by its drivers and crews.
The new C4 WRC machine features huge two-element rear wing and aggressive vanes mounted on the front bumper. Coming into line wit the 2017 regulations, the Citroen has an 'active' central differential and a larger turbo to boost power output to 380bhp.
Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton says his squad has completed over 9000km of testing since its debut run in April.
Meeke, who took a primary role on the development process as lead driver, says how the new car compares to its rivals is still unknown but feels the C3 is totally ready to challenge for race wins on its debut at Rally Monte Carlo next month.
“The 2017 car is an exciting machine. It's quite a big step from 2016,” Meeke said. 'We know the regulation changes but when you drive them in anger, they're a different beast; you really have to be on your game, every metre, to keep on top of them.
“For me, the human element will come to the front even more in 2017, because in places it's going to be difficult to extract the potential of these cars. At times they are so, so fast.
“Let's see when we get to Monte. We've been pushing hard in testing but you can never really tell until you get to competition and go up against others drivers and cars. I'm happy that we've done good work but there's still always that thought in your mind, that we don't know where we are in reference with our rivals.'
Citroen Racing has confirmed that it will run two C3s on the first few rounds of the season, before expanding the line-up to three or four examples from May onwards. For the opening event of 2017 Meeke will be joined in a C3 by Lefebvre, with Breen using a DS 3 WRC. The Frenchman and Irishman will both be in C3s by mid-season, along with Citroen Racing's fourth driver Al Qassimi.
In 2017, Citroen has scrapped its World Touring Car Championship squad to focus efforts in WRC, while it manufacturers the DS Virgin Racing car in Formula E.