WRC2 debut for the Citroën DS3 R5 and Sébastien Chardonnet
"It’s quite a big step up for me"
WRC3 champion and winner of the Citroën Top Driver last season, Sébastien Chardonnet kicks off his new programme at Rally Italia Sardegna. Alongside co-driver Thibault de la Haye, he will be driving a Citroën DS3 R5, the latest addition to Citroën Racing’s line-up of customer racing models. Rally Italia Sardegna is the first outing of a six-round programme in the WRC2 championship, which will see him compete in Poland, Finland, Germany, France and Great Britain.
Based on the FIA’s new regulations, Citroën is set to unleash the new flagship model of its customer racing line-up in the World Rally Championship.
The Citroën DS3 R5 shares much of its DNA and characteristics with its big sister, the DS3 WRC:1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged engine, four-wheel drive, sequential gearbox and McPherson suspension.It is designed to prepare young drivers for the upper echelons of the sport.
Homologated on 1st April, the Citroën DS3 R5 made its first competitive outing at this year’s Rallye di Sanremo.Sébastien Chardonnet now has the privilege of driving it on its debut appearance in the World Rally Championship.
Marek Nawarecki, Customer Racing Manager for Citroën Racing, believes that this brand new model marks Citroën’s return to a promising market:“It was important to have this kind of four-wheel drive product in our line-up.The driver development approach is now very well established with DS3 R1, DS3 R3 and DS3 R5, right up to the pinnacle, the DS3 WRC.The DS3 R5 is a car that is the perfect training tool for promising young drivers.It gives them the chance to show off their skills in national championships and the European Rally Championship and acquire experience in the World Championship.”
Who better than Sébastien Chardonnet to drive the Citroën DS3 R5 on its World Championship debut to demonstrate the driver development approach adopted by Citroën Racing?
“Sébastien Chardonnet illustrates perfectly what we are trying to put in place, in order to help talented young drivers.He began his career in the Citroën Racing Trophy before gathering more experience in a DS3 R3.He is the perfect example of a driver that is ready to bloom in WRC2.It’s going to be a great challenge for him.We hope he will acquire as much experience as possible in Italy to be able to keep improving throughout the season.”
Runner-up in the French Junior Rally Championship in 2011, now organised in partnership with Citroën Racing, Sébastien scored his first World Championship points at the 2012 Rallye de France – Alsace in a Citroën DS3 WRC.
In 2013, he became WRC3 champion and won the Citroën Top Driver with five podium finishes and two wins in a Citroën DS3 R3.His performances in 2013 have given him the chance to continue to improve this season, driving a Citroën DS3 R5 at six rounds of the WRC2 championship.
“It’s quite a big step up for me,” admitted Sébastien.“I had the chance to take part in the development of the DS3 R5 during the winter and start racking up the miles in a four-wheel drive car.Although I clearly needed some time to adapt, I found my old reflexes came back from when I used to race on circuit.And I really enjoyed driving the car.”
In Italy, Sébastien Chardonnet begins his WRC2 season:“My aim is to fine-tune my driving style and acquire some experience with the car in the World Championship.I am a real competitor at heart. I always want to win.But you always need to go through a period of learning first, and you can’t afford to ignore that.I know that racking up the miles is not only very important for me but for Citroën Racing too.I am treating this first rally with the respect it deserves. I’m very determined to work hard now and hopefully, I’ll reap the rewards in the future!”
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