WTCC promoter Francois Ribeiro says plans are already afoot to ensure Citroen remains involved in the series in a semi-works capacity after the 2016 season.
Citroen announced on Thursday that it will leave the WTCC at the end of 2016, the shortest full manufacturer programme in the WTCC’s history, in order to focus exclusively on the WRC from 2017.
Ribeiro however is buoyant about the championship’s future, acknowledging Citroen’s departure from the series as part of a “cyclical” process, and is hopeful that the French marque can be convinced to remain involved in the WTCC in 2017.
“We were delighted when Citroen chose the WTCC over a number of other international championships and pleased they got so much out of their participation,” said Ribeiro.
“Given the economic climate, Citroën Racing has been requested to focus on one world championship and they are going back to their rallying roots, with a strong WTCC engine.
“We respect that decision and know manufacturer involvement in motorsport has always been cyclical. The WTCC was on its two feet before Citroen entered, and will go on in 2017.
“Citroen will still enter a full factory team in 2016 and we are already working with them to see how a semi-factory team can be run beyond the end of next year.”
Volvo's WTCC plans not affected
Stepping in to fill the void left by Citroen will be Volvo, which is embarking on a multi-year programme from next year with a pair of works Polestar S60s.
While Volvo is disappointed it will only get to measure itself against pacesetters Citroen for one year only, the Swedish manufacturer said that the news does not affect its own WTCC plans.
“We see Citroen in the context that they have been in top level international FIA championships for more than 10 years,” said Polestar boss Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin.
“From that perspective there are not many manufacturers that have done a longer stint than them, and if they chose to take a pause, we cannot blame them.
“While we would of course have liked Citroen to stay longer in the championship, their announcement does not affect our plans in any way."
Neil Hudson / TouringCarTimes