Is there life after Sebastien Loeb? Citroen Racing would hope so after announcing its line-up for the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship. British driver Kris Meeke and Norwegian Mads Østberg are the men tasked to drive the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s DS3 WRC next season.
Having won the World Rally Championship eight times between 2003 and 2012, Citroën Racing is to continue its involvement in WRC with what it describes as two new high-potential pairings. By the way, living rally legend Loeb is off to the FIA World Touring Car Championship, where he will drive the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC next year.
Kris Meeke came through the ranks of Citroen’s promotional formulas, before driving a C2 Super 1600 for the brand in the Junior WRC. IRC Champion in 2009, the Northern Irishman has since made a return to the WRC. His two 2013 appearances saw him put in some impressive performances. Meeke becomes the first British driver to race a full season with Citroen since Colin McRae’s 2003 swansong.
“I have only competed in ten World Championship rallies in a WRC. I think I’ve got some potential, but I still need to get some experience under my belt. The Citroën DS3 WRC is a terrific car and I’m going to be able to use the team’s knowledge to help me improve. I know that I’ll have to be patient in the first half of the season and learn all about the rallies that I haven’t done before,” he said.
Twenty-six-year-old Mads Østberg has already taken part in 65 WRC rallies and won the Norwegian Championship four times. With seven podium finishes to his name at world level, he notched up his first WRC victory at the Rally of Portugal in 2012.
Like last year, Khalid Al Qassimi will take part in a selection of World Championship rallies. The driver from Abu Dhabi will line up for the races in Sweden, Portugal, Italy and Spain and will concentrate on taking part in the entire Middle East Rally Championship.
“Our team line-up for the 2014 season is in keeping with our ambitions,” concluded Yves Matton, MD of Citroën Racing. “Kris Meeke and Mads Østberg have followed very different career paths, but both of them are on the cusp of making it into the very top class of world rally drivers. After an initial phase of learning and getting to know each other, our goal will be to help them to improve and turn them into real contenders for victory.”
Always liked the DS3? Naza previewed the Citroen DS3 at KLIMS13 and will launch the three-door hatch in January 2014, with an estimated price of RM125,000. Click here for more info and pics from KLIMS13.