HOW HYUNDAI PLANS TO FIGHT BACK
Psa boss tavar es insists french team will turn the tide without big backing
PSA Group boss Carlos Tavares has confirmed Citroen’s commitment to the World Rally Championship and he’s convinced the manufacturer can return to its former glories despite a dramatically reduced budget.
Citroen’s future in rallying has been called into question after a troubled return to the WRC last season and the departure of senior personnel including, most recently, team principal Yves Matton – who left for the role of FIA rally director earlier this month.
Asked directly what Citroen’s commitment was to WRC, he replied: “There is a programme of between three and five years and there’s no reason today to say anything other than, we trust our people.”
Tavares provided forthright comment into Citroen’s performance in 2017 and the way forward in what he says is a three to five-year plan for the WRC.
Tavares said: “We were beaten in 2017. We were number four from four teams; we failed. But we are sportsmen and sportswomen, so when we have a bump on the road we raise our head again and we fight back. That’s the spirit of Citroen Racing. It is normal that, at one point in time, we might fail. Peugeot Sport, on the first year comeback in Dakar, failed, but for the next three years we won.
“I understand the fact my teams can fail one year as long as they behave like top sportsmen and sportswomen, look at what happened and, in an honest and clear way, try understand why it didn’t work and then try to fix it.”
Tavares refused to accept that budget cuts – reckoned by some to be as big as 30 per cent – were the reason Citroen failed last season.
He added: “Last year we were last, but our budget was significantly above the team that won the title: M-sport. That means money doesn’t make the result, as long as the budget is above a certain threshold. Our way is not to buy the best drivers and put the biggest budget in place. It’s not a case of: here’s the pot of money, now go and win – this is not our way of making sport.
“We are not a money-driven company. I believe money is not the number one driver of sport, the number one driver is the expertise, persistence and the capability to restart when you have a bump on the road and you fall.
“If you give a team the biggest pot of money and the biggest drivers, everything is high, high, high, but what’s the merit? The merit is in the fact you create a team of people who have strengths and weaknesses and you assemble those strengths and weaknesses of a group of people for them to feel excited as a team to demonstrate to all the other guys that they are better. That’s where the excitement is. If you give them more money, more people more drivers and more engineers, at the end of the day it’s not a team that’s winning, it’s a banker that is winning, and this is not my philosophy of sport.”
Tavares talked at length about his success in turning the PSA Group road car business around, and added that commercial ability had real relevance in bringing about a similar upturn for Citroen Racing’s WRC fortunes in the future.
“This company was bankrupt four years ago, yet in the first half of 2017 we were number five in the worldwide [carmaking] industry ranking in terms of profitability,” he said. “How did we achieve this? Because we understood what counts is efficiency and effectiveness, it’s not the amount of money [in the budget].”