Citroen is confident it will be 'competitive and reliable' from the very first round of its new World Touring Car Championship endeavour as it continues to ramp up development work on the C-Elysee.
The French firm, which turns to touring car racing for the first time in 2014 after a hugely successful period in the World Rally Championship, has already made great strides over its prospective rivals having fired up the C-Elysee several months ago.
Indeed, with radical new regulations coming into play from 2014, Citroen has been hard at work bringing the C-Elysee up to speed, with main rivals Honda, RML and Lada still reported to be in the early stages of their respective developments.
By contrast, Citroen has already completed tests at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, at Monza and the Hungaroring, a variety of venues that Citroen Racing Deputy Team Principal Xavier Mestelan-Pinon feels would push the C-Elysee to the limit.
“Rather than systematically use the same circuits used by the championship, we looked for tracks that are representative of everything we could encounter during the course of a season. We have been to the Hungaroring and Monza, two tracks that couldn't be more different.
“At the start of the year, our partner Abu Dhabi gave us the opportunity to run at Yas Marina. We took advantage of warmer temperatures than in Europe, but we also had rain!”
Coupled to a strong driver line-up of reigning WTCC champion Yvan Muller, legendary World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and newcomer Jose-Maria Lopez, Mestelan-Pinon feels the manufacturer is well on course to be competitive from the very start.
“We have three more tests scheduled before the start of the championship. At one of them, we will run two C-Elysée WTCCs to log a maximum amount of experience – most notably in the area of tyres – and to run Seb, José-María and Yvan. These tests will also allow our driver-engineer duos to cement their relationships. We will also look to validate our work methods, our equipment and everything specific to the category.”
“We will present it to the FIA in mid-March. After this stage, a certain number of components will be frozen and we will be able to make changes using wildcards, according to the system we know very well from rally. Beyond these regulations, we look to prepare a car that is competitive and reliable from the first race. In eleven weeks, we will run the 7 European rounds of the season. We must be ready at Marrakech!”
As well as its three drivers, Citroen – which is using a car primarily designed for the burgeoning Chinese market – will enter a fourth car at selected rounds for wild-cards.