Citroen introduces the Citroen Junior Team

Citroen Sport is delighted to announce the launch of the Citroen Junior Team which will run as a 'Manufacturers 2' team in the 2009 FIA World Rally Championship. The programme will be handled by Citroen Sport Technologies and will feature several talented young drivers over the year. The full list of names, and the individual events they will each contest, have yet to be finalised, however.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be able to confirm the Citroen Junior Team as an M2 entry in the 2009 World Rally Championship," says Citroen Sport Director Olivier Quesnel. "As required by the regulations, the Citroen Junior Team will contest at least eight events in order to qualify for Manufacturers' points. Conrad Rautenbach, Evgeny Novikov and Sebastien Ogier will form the mainstay of the line-up, while Chris Atkinson is due to take part in the first round of the new year, the Rally Ireland, in a Citroen C4 WRC."

"It is no coincidence that we have chosen to employ the word 'Junior' in the team's official name," points out Citroen Sport Technologies Manager Benoit Nogier. "It is an M2 team which will predominantly run drivers who are currently learning the sport, and their average age will be 22. Our aims are to develop the commercial side which we began in 2008 and also enable our crews to benefit from our expertise. The programme will allow them to gain valuable extra experience which will put them in good stead for the next step of their career."

The set-up of the operation will be the same as that which ran Urmo Aava and Conrad Rautenbach in 2008 and will continue to feature the Citroen C4 WRC. On events, Citroen Sport Technologies will be based close to Citroen Sport's facilities and will once again be able to benefit from the latter's know-how. The Citroen Junior Team brings a further boost to the brand's commitment to the WRC and will be able to count on the expertise of the World Championship-winning squad throughout the year.

"Following the encouraging results he obtained in 2008, Conrad Rautenbach will again contest every round of the 2009 championship," specifies Benoit Nogier. "He will be joined on at least eight of those 12 rounds by the very young Russian driver Evgeny Novikov who will be competing in a WRC car for the first time and who has also shown that he has plenty of potential. The programme of the Junior World Champion Sebastien Ogier, who made a name for himself on the recent Wales Rally GB, currently includes six events. Last but not least, we will be joined in Ireland by Australia's Chris Atkinson who is already a familiar face in the sport. It is our belief that our association with Chris will not stop there."

The crews who have been confirmed to drive for the Citroen Junior Team are all very aware of the opportunity they have been given. They go into 2009 with great enthusiasm and extremely determined, yet perfectly conscious of the challenge that awaits them.

-credit: citroen