Citroen up beat despite funding blow
Citroen Racing team principal Pierre Budar has explained the reason for the loss of Abu Dhabi Racing and the implication for his Versaillesbased team next season.
When initial images emerged from Sebastien Ogier’s first test in a C3 WRC last week, there was anticipation that the Abu Dhabi deal was still on – the stickers were still on the side of the car. By the afternoon, the deal was off. And so were the stickers.
Budar said: “The relationship stopped after six years because Abu Dhabi Racing and its government have to do some studying on what is going on in their investment. After the result in Spain, we had some hope that it would continue, but also Sheikh Khalid [Al Qassimi] let us know that it was possible it would stop.
“The main impact for us will be on the number of cars we run in 2019. Without the partnership of Abu Dhabi, it will be more difficult to have a third car. So far we can only confirm two cars for Citroen Racing. It was a condition to have a partnership with Abu Dhabi to get a third car, so yes it will be much more complicated to get that [third] car unless we get another partner.” Budar added that there was every possibility Abu Dhabi would be back with Citroen, following its evaluation, in 2020. Mads Ostberg, who stepped in to replace Kris Meeke who was sacked by the French firm after the Rally of Portugal in May, said the loss of the Citroen’s third car had ended his hopes of staying in the WRC next year. He said: “With no third car, my last option for a WRC contract disappeared. I’m really sorry and disappointed right now. I felt at home with the team and happy with the way we were moving forward as a team.”
Ostberg is well acquainted with the tribulations of the WRC driver market, having been forced to sit out large parts of last season having been dropped by the M-sport World Rally Team at the end of 2016.
“It’s time to buckle up and fight back,” said Ostberg. “I’ve done it before and I can do it again! I’m open for different possibilities, but WRC is, of course, where my heart lies.
“Now it’s time to get back to the drawing board, finding a way to fight my way back. I’m not done being a rally driver.”
Citroen’s other drivers Sebastien Loeb and Craig Breen are both working to find other options to remain in the WRC next season.
For further details of their efforts – together with a full analysis of implications for the loss of Citroen’s third car – see analysis, page 14.
Budar: two cars only in 2019 Abu Dhabi backing will not be on the C3 cars this term