Changes looms one year out from WRC return to Coffs Coast
BIG CHANGES could be in the wind for three prominent drivers and one international marque by the time Rally Australia lands on the Coffs Coast in 2016.
Drivers Kris Meeke, Mads Ostberg and Sebastien Loeb find their careers in transition while Citroen is developing an all-new car to meet new 2017 technical regulations.
Citroen CEO Linda Jackson announced the manufacturer’s long-term sporting efforts would focus on the WRC with plans to make a fresh start in the sport it dominated between 2004 and 2012.
In preparation for 2017, the works rally team will sit out next season.
However the announcement does leave room for the Citroen DS3 WRC to appear next year under some other arrangement.
The announcement did not mention 2015 WRC drivers Kris Meeke or Mads Ostberg but autosport.com quoted a spokeswoman saying Ostberg would not continue in 2016.
Discussions were continuing with Meeke, who finished second in Wales Rally GB last weekend.
Citroen’s announcement also said its nine-time WRC champion and WTCC driver of the past two seasons Sebastien Loeb would leave the manufacturer after 15 years – although only to join sister company Peugeot Sport to concentrate on his Dakar off-road rally debut.
The French team has an illustrious WRC record, including victories in Australia in 2004 and 2005 for Francois Duval and Loeb, respectively.
“With eight world titles and a record 94 wins, Citroen has certainly enjoyed unrivalled success in the WRC,” Jackson said.
"In 2017, the appearance of a new generation of cars, which are purported to be very attractive, will coincide with our renewed involvement.
“Everything will therefore be in place for us to write a new chapter in our history.”