Yvan Muller has admitted it was a 'tough decision' to leave RML and join Citroen for the 2014 World Touring Car Championship.
The Frenchman has been with RML since 2010 and has taken two of his three titles while driving the team's Chevrolet Cruze, and is odds-on to wrap up his fourth championship crown this season – with a commanding 132 point lead in the standings.
The 43-year-old had been mentioned alongside former Chevrolet team-mates Rob Huff and Alain Menu as possible options for Citroen's new programme with the C-Elysee, with the French manufacturer confirming it had signed Muller to a two-year deal
that will see him partner WRC legend Sebastien Loeb.
While that gives Muller the chance to sign with a works team again, and with RML yet to commit to a World Touring Car Championship programme for 2014, the triple title winner admitted it hadn't been an easy decision and paid tribute to RML for its support in recent years.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me to make,” he said. “RML has allowed me to win many races and conquer two World Championship titles. We've worked incredibly hard together for the past four seasons and these have been years of great personal satisfaction for me. RML is a truly professional team and one that I shall not forget. I would like to thank everybody in the factory for giving me your confidence and I hope that our successes together over the years have put RML firmly on the sporting map.
“As for the remaining races, my motivation continues just as strong and I can assure colleagues and friends at RML and Lukoil that I will, as always, put every effort in to achieve the success that we all hope for and expect by the end of what has been an incredible season.”
Having driven the most successful of the current generation of cars in the Cruze in recent seasons, Muller has already had the chance to sample the 2014-spec Citroen and he admitted that the new generation car was likely to be a step up from the machine that has won the championship title for the last three years.
“Compared to what I've experienced in recent seasons, the [Citroen] car is lighter, more powerful and more efficient in terms of aerodynamics,” he said. “It also has wider tyres and bigger brakes. In short, everything is better and this new generation will be a lot faster than the current car. It's still a touring car, with life made a little bit easier for the driver. My first impressions are that the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC is a good base to work from and I'm looking forward to getting stuck into the development sessions.”
Muller also added that he was looking forward to running alongside Loeb in the Citroen line-up next year, with the pair having no fewer than twelve FIA world titles between them.
“I'm sure it will work very well,” he said. “We are big boys with little left to prove and we know what working for a manufacturer is all about. You have to think about the brand above all else, and that's what I've always done.
“Obviously, I would prefer to end up on top of the podium, but the main goal is for the team to win. Solidarity between team-mates is one of the keys to success.”