The Citroen DS3 R3 over mountains and valleys
There's no rest for the Citroen DS3 R3, which is stringing together rallies at a frenetic pace. Next, it gets to grips with the magnificent mountains of Switzerland, for the Rallye International du Valais: the final round of the European Championship. The route takes in some breathtaking scenery, giving the DS3 R3 another important opportunity to capture a class victory.
The stages run over soaring mountain peaks and seemingly endless roads, with high average speeds and slippery surfaces often covered in black ice. In total, there are 280 competitive kilometres during three action-packed days of rallying. Once more, the weather will play a key role thanks to wintry temperatures that will undoubtedly complicate matters for the competing crews who will also have to deal with the numerous surface changes that characterise the Swiss event.
The DS3 R3, which will run in Reseau Citroen France livery, will be able to rely upon the talents of young Belgian Thierry Neuville as it tackles these specialised Alpine stages. Among the highlights of the itinerary are the renowned 40-kilometre Les Cols stage, as well as the Anzere and Vercorin stages, which take place close to Sion. This latest rally, which is the third foreign round of the DS3 R3's programme, represents another important step forwards in the car's development.
Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Racing's customer competition department, commented: "This third `away fixture' for the DS3 R3 will allow our team to confirm the data collected so far and continue their work on the development. The DS3 R3 has already competed on four very demanding asphalt rallies, so now it is ready to face its rivals in Switzerland. Thierry Neuville, who has already shone at al the wheel of the C2-R2 MAX and the C2-S1600 in the past, will be a precious ally on these mountain roads that he loves."
The rally gets underway on Thursday 28 October. The crews will face five stages on the first day, which will end with the traditional Casernes superspecial stage.
Three questions to... Thierry Neuville
You've been part of the team that developed the Citroen Racing DS3 R3. What do you think of the car?
"I was one of the first people to drive the Citroen DS3 R3 and I was immediately surprised not just by the potential and competitiveness of the car but also how much fun it was to drive. Since those first tests the car has made a lot of progress and it has many strong points. I'm thinking in particular of the suspension, the chassis and the gearbox. It will adapt itself easily to all sorts of different driving styles and it will give professionals and amateurs alike a really good feeling."
In 2009, you were seventh overall on the Rallye du Valais in a C2-R2 MAX. Can the Citroen DS3 R3 win on this type of terrain?
"It will definitely be extremely competitive as it is really efficient no matter what the level of grip is like. On the roads of the Valais, the grip levels are changing constantly according to the weather, the temperature and the altitude. I certainly think that the DS3 R3 has everything it takes to be in the top 10 of the final overall classification."
The Rallye du Valais is well known for being a difficult event. What do you think?
"The Rallye du Valais is an event that suits me perfectly. I love this rally, because it's quick and often quite varied. The small sections of gravel that you occasionally find on the stages are tricky and capable of causing punctures. It's a difficult rally but that's the reason why everyone likes it. With the quality of entries that we have this year, it should be an exciting weekend."