Psa boss tavar es in­sists french team will turn the tide with­out big back­ing

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - By David Evans

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].”

Meeke (right) heads Citroen’s WRC line-up Citroen has en­dured a trou­bled WRC re­turn Mat­ton has FIA role

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