The Citroen DS3 R3 continues its mission
The Citroen DS3 R3 crossed the finish ramp of the Criterium des Cevennes in eighth overall after securing second place in Group R. It was a tough and challenging event, where a puncture cost the Reseau Citroen France-backed car victory. Nonetheless, the DS3 R3 faced up to the obstacles posed by the local terrain extremely well.
As expected, the penultimate round of the French Rally Championship was supremely challenging, with more than 85 crews retiring over the course of the event. But the tricky stages in the south of France did not even slightly affect the reliability of the DS3 R3, which started off the rally at a prudent pace.
There was one night stage, Ferrières, which opened up the 216 kilometres of competitive action, allowing the DS3 R3 to get up to speed. The following day characterised by warm weather conditions and dry roads the car got even quicker, improving its stage times with every kilometre that passed.
Unfortunately, a puncture on the fourth stage undid all the good work. The crew lost nearly three minutes and slipped down to 20th. On the second loop, Stephane Sarrazin and Jacques Julien Renucci did all they could to grab some time back, on stages that were made dirty and slippery by the passage of previous competitors. Sarrazin made up nine places in the overall classification and ended up on the provisional Group R podium by the end of the day. On Saturday, the weather conditions worsened, making the roads damp and tricky. Depite this, the DS3 R3 set some top times, standing out particularly on the 42-kilometre Tourgeilles test. In total the car set three fastest stage times in Group R and two fifth-fastest times overall. This brilliant fightback resulted in the Reseau Citroen France car finishing eighth overall on the southern French event.
Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Racing's customer competition activities, concluded: "The outcome of the Criterium des Cevennes was positive for us. We improved our times with every stage, even though the puncture in Le Luc-Alzon meant that we forced to abandon our hopes of Group R victory. The rally allowed us to fine-tune the set-up of the car under these new conditions though, and prove once more that it is up to this latest challenge."
Stephane Sarrazin added: "We're obviously disappointed to miss out on victory because of a puncture but that's just part of rallying. The DS3 R3 showed itself to be very efficient on this type of terrain and we were able to go at a decent pace, as our objective was to find the best set-up for the car. What's sure is that this little rally car feels fantastic to drive while being very easy to handle."
The DS3 R3 now heads straight to the Rallye International du Valais in Switzerland. This time, the crew will be formed of talented young Belgian Thierry Neuville and his co-driver Nicolas Klinger, who have the firm intention of bringing home another class victory.