Citroen up beat de­spite fund­ing blow

Motor Sport News - - Headline News - Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­

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

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