Citroen ends WRC programme, cites Ogier's exit as reason

Citroen has confirmed it will depart the WRC with immediate effect, stating Sebastien Ogier’s decision to move to Toyota left it with no alternative.

Citroen ends WRC programme, cites Ogier's exit as reason
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The French firm announced its decision on Wednesday, confirming mounting speculation of a withdrawal.

Ogier and teammate Esapekka Lappi had a year left to run on their contracts, but the Frenchman’s decision to walk after a difficult season aboard the C3 WRC left Citroen with no lead driver.

A statement from Citroen Racing said: “Citroen decided to withdraw from its WRC programme in 2020 due to the absence of a first-class driver available for 2020 season.”

 

Ogier will be announced as a Toyota driver alongside Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanpera on Monday.

For Lappi, the future is less clear, as Citroen’s announcement seriously reduces the number of seats available in the WRC.

 

The Ford Fiesta WRC vacated by Evans is now the only frontline, full-time factory seat remaining in the world championship.

In confirming the decision, Citroen CEO Linda Jackson said: “Our decision to withdraw from WRC programme as early as end of 2019 follows on Sebastien Ogier’s choice to leave Citroen Racing. 

“We obviously have not wished this situation but we could not imagine 2020 season without Sebastien. I would like to thank Citroen Racing team for their passion and commitment. A part of Citroen’s DNA is intimately linked with the rally and we are proud to be one the most titled brands in WRC history with 102 victories and eight manufacturer titles.” 

Ogier and Toyota have made no comment on their plans for 2020.

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WRC departures are nothing new for Citroen. The famous chevrons first appeared at the top level of the sport with the BX 4TC in 1986 – that car didn’t even last a season before Citroen quit.

More recently, the Versailles-based team left the series in 2005 and 2016, but those occasions were to develop a new car for a forthcoming campaign.

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This time there will be no quick return for Citroen, as PSA Motorsport has already confirmed to Motorsport.com it will not be involved in the WRC’s 2022 move to hybrid, having already committed to Peugeot’s return to the FIA World Endurance Championship and the Group’s premium brand DS's continuing programme in Formula E.

Citroen’s first World Rally Car arrived in the WRC in 2001, with a maiden manufacturers’ title coming two years later. The decade that followed was the most successful for any car-crew combination in the series’ history, with Sebastien Loeb taking nine straight drivers’ titles and Citroen winning eight championships in total.

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