Day by day, week by week, the clock counts down for Citroën Racing to the opening round of the World Touring Car Championship, scheduled to start on 5-6 April 2014 in Marrakech. The team have come a long way since it officially announced it would be taking part in the championship earlier this year, on 19 July! Once the CAD drawings had taken on physical form, Citroën C-Elysée WTCC completed its first on-track tests. Since then, the car has undergone a series of development sessions, with the twin objective of obtaining a quick and reliable car.
Central to the project since its inception, Sébastien Loeb was the first driver to be confirmed on the team. This is unquestionably the greatest challenge that the 39 year-old nine-time World Rally Champion has taken on in his career. With the modesty befitting of a beginner, he has started from scratch in his attempt to learn about the inner workings of a racing category that is fundamentally different to the one in which he has excelled! To achieve his goal, the Alsatian driver has taken part in a variety of track racing events, notably winning several races in GT.
In securing the services of Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb’s teacher and rival, Citroën Racing has played a trump card for this new adventure. After starting out in single-seater racing and proving unbeatable in ice racing, “the other Alsatian” is above all one of the most experienced touring car drivers in the world, having competed in twenty seasons! In winning his fourth world title in 2013, Yvan became the most successful driver in the history of the WTCC. And he almost certainly isn’t done yet!
Alongside the two Frenchman, José-Maria López will be the third driver to compete for Citroën Racing. Having come close to a drive in Formula 1 after an impressive career in single-seater racing, the Argentina quickly adapted to GT and touring car racing. Competing in the very popular TC2000, “Pechito” won the Argentinean national championship in 2008, 2009 and 2012 (Súper TC). His experience of the WTCC is limited to the meeting held on the Termas de Rio Hondo racetrack in 2013. However, he made quite an impression, producing a stunning performance to win the second race!
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “After spending the last ten years or so at the top of the WRC, we are excited about the idea of writing a new chapter in our shared history with Sébastien Loeb. We chose the WTCC because it is a form of racing with controlled costs, a genuinely-worldwide race calendar and a lot of media coverage. As was the case in cross country/rally-raid and in WRC, we have attempted to secure the best drivers for our team. Yvan Muller has been heavily involved in development of the car, and has been one the driving forces behind the progress we have made. But we also have high expectations of José-Maria López, who has proven to be very comfortable at the wheel of the C-Elysée WTCC during his first tests…”
SÉBASTIEN LOEB (FRA)
Born on 26 February, 1974
Nine-time World Rally Champion (2004 to 2012)
WTCC races: 0
YVAN MULLER (FRA)
Born on 16 August, 1969
Ten-time winner of the Andros Trophy
WTCC races: 182
WTCC wins: 37
Four-time World Touring Car Champion (2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013)
JOSÉ-MARÍA LÓPEZ (ARG)
Born on 26 April, 1983
WTCC races: 2
WTCC wins: 1
Best finish in the WTCC drivers’ championship: 15th in 2013