Citroen C4 WRC – four titles and 34 WRC wins in Loeb's hands
Citroen C4 WRC is one of the most successful race cars in a world rallying history, although it competed only four seasons in the World Rally Championship, from 2007 to 2010. Citroën C4 collected 36 WRC victories, 34 of them in the hands of the 9-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb and two more with Loeb’s successor Sebastien Ogier.
Citroën postponed the introduction postponed from 2004 to 2007
C4 World Rally Car was based on the three-door road version of Citroën C4 which was introduced in 2004. Rallying version od C4 was first sighted in 2004 and the plan was to replace successful but outdated Xsara WRC during the 2005 season. The plan was changed after PSA Group withdrew both Citroën and Peugeot from works participation in the WRC, so the project was abandoned.
During 2006 season Xsara WRC was operated by Kronos team whilst in 2007 Citroën works team was back. In the meantime, the French manufacturer showed the C4 Citroen Sport concept car at the 2006 Paris Motor Show, which was the design basis for a real race car. In the hands of Citroen Sport’s engineers at Versailles Satory, the concept car became the C4 WRC.
The same engine in a longer and wider car
The overall styling was maintained, but the car had to be adapted according to the international regulations and performance requirements. The front and rear wings, bumpers and spoiler were modified to satisfy the regulations and performance criteria. To save time and money, a number of body parts were studied in wind tunnels before validation of the full-size parts at the end of the project.
Like the Xsara, the Citroën C4 WRC features four-wheel drive and a 2-litre turbocharged engine with same amount of power (about 315 hp). The engine was paired with a cross-mounted 6-speed sequential gearbox. The C4 WRC was longer (427 cm to 417 cm) and wider (180cm to 170 cm) than Xsara, with 4,5 cm longer wheelbase. Those changes were supposed to provide a better stability of the new race car.
According to the new regulations, the use of electronic driving aids is limited, same as for the Xsara in its 2006 configuration. Because of the regulatory budget cuts the sub-systems, such as the engines, gearboxes, front, central and rear differentials and dampers, must last longer and be more reliable.
Victorious debut for C4 WRC at 2007 Rallye Monte-Carlo
For the official debut, at 2007 Rally Monte-Carlo, two cars were prepared for the triple world champion Sebastien Loeb (co-driven by Daniel Elena) and his new teammate Dani Sordo (co-driven by Marc Marti). The debut was fantastic, the two C4 WRCs finished 1-2, with Loeb winning ahead of Sordo.
Eight wins in debuting season
Later that year, Loeb won seven of the remaining 15 rallies and took his fourth consecutive world championship title. He collected four points more than Marcus Gronholm, but Ford’s duo Gronholm – Hirvonen was more successful than Loeb – Sordo in the manufacturers’ competition, so Ford took the title. Besides WRC events Loeb and Elena participated with C4 WRC at some minor non-championship rallies, such as Donegal International Rally and Cork 20 International Rally in Ireland, and they of course won.
11 wins at 15 rallies in 2008
2008 season was successful for both Sébastien Loeb and Citroen Total World Rally Team. After winning incredible 11 of 15 rallies Loeb comfortably took his fifth world title, with 19 points more than Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen. Dani Sordo scored six podiums and finished third in the drivers’ standings, so Citroën overtook manufacturers’ title from Ford.
During 2008 two more C4 WRCs were also run by privateer French team PH-Sport for Conrad Rautenbach and Urmo Aava. Reutenbach’s best results was fourth place in Argentina, while Estonian Aava finished fourth in Greece. At the final event of the season, Wales Rally GB, there was one more C4 WRC as the award for the newly crowned Junior WRC winner Sébastien Ogier. He led early in the race but finished 26th.
Six drivers competed with C4 WRCs in 2009
In the 2009 season the situation was similar as in 2008. Loeb was the winner at seven of 12 WRC events and he again took the title ahead Mikko Hirvonen, but this time with just one point difference. Dano Sordo again was third and Citroën again took the manufacturers’ title.
Six more drivers competed with C4 WRCs during 2009 season. Citroen’s satellite team, Citroen Junior Team, ran a C4 WRCs for Evgeny Novikov, Conrad Rautenbach and Sébastien Ogier. The best result was Ogier’s second place at Acropolis Rally. Australian Chris Atkinson drove C4 WRC at Rally Ireland (finished 5th) and Aaron Burkart participated at Wales Rally GB (finished 12th). Petter Solberg‘s private team was using Citroën Xsara during the year, but at last two events of the season Solberg switched to C4 WRC and finished fourth both in Spain and Wales.
Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ titles in the last season
Petter Solberg continued to use C4 WRC in 2010 season and finished 3rd in the championship, better than Citroen works drivers Ogier and Sordo. Solberg scored eight podium finishes, Sordo was five times on the podium, while Ogier took three podiums and two wins. Victory at 2010 Rallye de Portugal, driving Citroën C4, was the first ever WRC win for the future world champion. Later in the season he scored one more win in Japan.
Sebastien Loeb was dominant again and after eight victories at 13 events he won his 7th consecutive world title with 105 points more than the second placed Jari-Matti Latvala. Citroen Total WRT was also dominant and took sixth manufacturers’ title.
Kimi’s rally adventure with Citroen C4
One more world champion was driving Citroën C4 in 2010. It was 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen, who competed for Citroen Junior Team at twelve races. His best result was 5th place in Turkey.
In 2011 Citroën C4 WRC was replaced by DS3 WRC. Until its retirement C4 collected 36 world rally victories and became the most suceessful Citroen’s rally car ever. Its predecessor Xsara won 32 WRC rallies in six seasons, while DS3 WRC achieved 24 wins in five seasons (until the end of 2015).
Amongst the other manufacturers, Lancia Delta is a record holder with 46 wins during six season. Various versions of Ford Focus RS WRC collected 44 wins in 12 seasons. Peugeot’s model 206 WRC scored 24 wins in four seasons. Current Volkswagen Polo R WRC is on the way to the top, with 34 wins in three seasons (2013-2015).
Here’s few YouTube tribute videos of Citroen C4 WRC:
Photos: Citroen Racing