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Citroen open to making WRC car available to privateers

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Citroen open to making WRC car available to privateers
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Dec 4, 2019, 11:02 AM

Citroen's C3 WRC will be available to buyers and the car could yet compete in the 2020 World Rally Championship, even though the manufacturer has withdrawn its works team.

Citroen Racing has told Motorsport.com it won't run the cars itself - the Versailles team's only rally commitment moving forward is with its customer programme C3 R5-class car - but there's nothing to stop the World Rally Cars being used by private teams.

Citroen team principal Pierre Budar said: "[To see the cars compete next year] the most likely option is for the cars to be sold or run by a private buyer.

"But for now, there is no news to communicate on this topic.

"Everything is possible, we will take into consideration all the opportunities that emerge for the rent or sale of our cars."

Any WRC privateer entries made since the current regulations came in for the 2017 season have still been run and prepared by that car's manufacturer, and no true privateer has entered the WRC and run its own car in the same period.

Both Citroen drivers Sebastien Ogier and Esapekka Lappi criticsed the car at times this season, and Ogier's run of six titles in three different cars came to and end with his move to Citroen as he was beaten by Ott Tanak and Thierry Neuville.

Budar admitted to the frustration at not being able to see where the evolution of the C3 would have slotted in next season, after heavy development work on the car in 2019.

"I am quite convinced we would have started the season in a much better position than this year," he said. "If we will see the car next season, I don't know.

"I am quite convinced of it [that he developed C3 could fight for the title]. The progress we could see during the latest development tests.

"A better understanding and experience of the team - [for the] race and data engineers on the car; they were quite new at the beginning of this season and now they have one more season [of experience].

"Altogether I am quite sure we would have been much more in the fight next season, but that's easy to say."

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Citroen driver Esapekka Lappi - who is now without a seat and his only reported option is a seat at the M-Sport World Rally Team - believed the team had made a "big improvement".

"I think we could have done quite big steps," added Lappi, who switched to the team for 2019 from Toyota.

"Obviously you saw the aero update which was working very well - for sure it would have helped a lot on the fast stages and fast rallies.

"The change and the difference in time was quite big from the old aero.

"And then we had some performance-related updates: new engine, new geometry with some steering updates and some other things for the diffs.

"We were working on it for sure. Like we saw when I got the diffs I wanted [this season] it all clicked on gravel.

"There was a lot of work on Tarmac to be done, but I was positive we had a big improvement for next year. Maybe they wouldn't have answered all the challenges we face this year, but at least some of them."

Citroen cited Sebastien Ogier's departure as the reason for its exit in 2020, announced earlier this month. The Frenchman's decision to sign for Toyota, according to Citroen, left the team without a chance of fulfilling its stated aim of winning the drivers' title in 2020.

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About this article

Series WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team
Author David Evans