With an overall win in the French rally championship and two WRC2 podiums under its belt, the Citroën C3 R5 will be looking to add to its impressive competitive record as the WRC heads for Sardinia. Stéphane Lefebvre – Gabin Moreau, the brand’s works crew, will be supported on this outing by Simone Tempestini – Sergiu Itu, winners of the 2017 Citroën Ultimate Challenge.
Determined to become the new car to beat in the category, the C3 R5 is certainly not afraid of taking on the most demanding events in the World Rally Championship. Sardinia is undoubtedly one such rally: its narrow roads, lined with foreboding rocks and generally contested in exhaustingly high temperatures, mean the drivers and their cars will be very sorely tested. Unerringly reliability is needed, along with great precision behind the steering wheel, to enjoy a successful rally here. That will be the task at hand for Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau, Citroën Racing’s works crew, following on from their encouraging first outing on gravel less than two weeks ago in Portugal. On the roads around Porto, Stéphane and Gabin scored a stage win and twice held the category lead before ultimately securing a second consecutive WRC2 podium (3rd) for the C3 R5, after the runner-up spot claimed by Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud in Corsica. The French crew also have high hopes coming into this, the third race of their WRC2 season, although Stéphane only has one previous appearance on the Italian island (2015). He had nonetheless managed to grab the first stage win on gravel of his fledgling WRC2 career during that single outing here. Citroën Racing will also be able to call upon Simone Tempestini, winner of the 2017 Citroën Ultimate Challenge, to showcase the qualities of its latest customer racing product. Simone will be contesting the first of a three-event programme (along with Finland and Germany) in the C3 R5. A programme that reflects the brand’s affection for one of its bravest standard bearers.
WHAT THEY SAID
Pierre Budar, Citroën Racing Team Principal
“After a promising debut on gravel in Portugal, the C3 R5 is now tackling another heavyweight challenge on the generally demanding, hot roads of Sardinia. But we come into this event well prepared, having conducted three days of testing here, including two just for Stéphane and Gabin. We are therefore trying to get them in the best possible shape for the rally so that they can produce a performance that is at least as good as the one they managed in Portugal.”
“I don’t have much experience at this rally, but I remember that you have to be very careful and not get too carried away. The stages are narrow, technically difficult and also pretty rough, with plenty of loose stones. The itinerary has changed a lot since 2015, the year when I had my only previous appearance here. However, thanks to the on-board footage available on WRC +, I have managed to do quite a lot of work and confirmed the pace notes taken in recce last year, so that we’re not completely leaping into the unknown. The aim is to get the same good feeling we had in Portugal as quickly as possible, so we can fight at the front again.”