Citroen DS3 WRC - mission accomplished, ready for retirement
The new era of the World Rally Cars would start in 2017, with 380-hp mean machines which would remind us of the Group B rally cars from the 1980s. All the current cars, which compete in the premier class of the World Rally Championship, will be retired or sold to the privateers. Some of the current cars, such is Volkswagen Polo R WRC, already secured the place in the top 5 cars of all times. The best among the other Citroen cars is Citroen DS3 WRC. With 27 victories in the World Rally Championship (until mid-season 2016), DS3 WRC is third on the list of successful Citroen rally cars, behind C4 WRC (36 wins) and Xsara WRC (32 wins).
DS3 was totally different compared to its predecessor
Citroen DS3 WRC was introduced in 2010, replacing the highly successful C4 WRC in the 2011 World Rally Championship. The road version of DS3 is a completely different type of car than C4, so the rally version was also something completely new. The DS3 WRC was developed under the new regulations for 2011, same as other rival cars based on the B-segment road legal models (Ford Fiesta and Mini Cooper in 2011, VW Polo in 2013 and Hyundai i20 in 2014).
Completely new engine for 2011 cars
The biggest change compared to the previous generation of WRC models is the power unit. The two-litre turbo engine was replaced by a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. Although the engine capacity was decreased, the new engines had the same amount of power (315 hp). The engine is connected to the six-speed sequential gearbox. DS3 WRC is about 30 cm shorter than C4 WRC, which was also a significant difference in terms of stability and aerodynamics.
Citroen DS3 WRC debuted at the 2011 Rally Sweden
After a full year of testing, with Citroen works drivers at the wheel of testing mules, prototypes and real racing cars, DS3 WRC debuted in February 2011 at Rally Sweden. Four cars competed in the opening round of the 2011 championship, two of Citroen Total World Rally Team (Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier) and two private cars (Petter Solberg and Kimi Raikkonen). Dutch team Van Merksteijn Motorsport purchased two cars for father and son Van Merksteijn, Peter Sr. and Peter Jr., and they joined the competition later in the season.
The brand new Ford Fiesta RS WRC had a better debut and Ford drivers Mikko Hirvonen, Mads Ostberg and Jari-Matti Latvala occupied the podium at Rally Sweden. Citroen took the next three positions (Ogier 4th, Solberg 5th and Loeb 6th).
Maiden win for DS3 at the 2011 Rally Mexico
In the second round of the championship, at Rally Mexico in March, Loeb achieved the maiden victory for DS3 WRC. At the next event, in Portugal, Ogier won the rally for the second consecutive year, and Loeb finished second.
Until the end of the season, both Loeb and Ogier scored four more victories each and collected ten wins for DS3 WRC in its maiden season. Ogier was the winner in Jordan, Greece, Germany and France, while Loeb celebrated in Italy, Argentina, Finland and Spain.
Eighth title for Sebastien Loeb and seventh for Citroen
Sebastien Loeb and Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen went to Wales, to the final round of the championship, with an eight points difference. Ultimately, the championship was decided during Friday when Hirvonen hit a tree stump at the Dyfnant stage and he was forced to retire from the event. With Hirvonen unable to restart, Loeb claimed his eighth consecutive world title and seventh title for Citroen. Loeb also retired from the event on Sunday morning after a head-on collision with a spectator vehicle on the liaison route.
The counting of world titles stopped at 9!
In 2012, the number of DS3 WRC drivers expanded to ten. Sebastien Loeb and Mikko Hirvonen was competing for the Citroen Total World Rally Team and they earned eighth world title for the French manufacturer. Loeb took his ninth and last world title after winning nine of 13 events in the 2012 championship. Hirvonen added one victory (Sardinia) to the DS3’s account.
Ten drivers competed with DS3 WRC in 2012
Thierry Neuville participated in eleven events with DS3 WRC of Citroen Junior World Rally Team and two events with Qatar World Rally Team. His best result was fourth place at Rallye de France and he finished seventh in the championship.
The main driver for the Qatar WRT was Nasser Al-Attiyah who participated in eight races with DS3 WRC, finishing highest in the fourth place at Rallye de Portugal. Chris Atkinson and Hans Weijs Jr were the replacement drivers at one event each. Van Merksteijns again competed at selected events. Two more drivers had one-off appearances with DS3 – Luca Pedersoli and Sebastien Chardonnet.
Two more wins for Loeb and one for Sordo
In 2013, after nine years of domination, Citroen and Sebastien Loeb were replaced at the top of world rallying by Volkswagen Motorsport and Sebastien Ogier. The German team won the manufacturers’ and drivers’ title in their maiden WRC season.
Citroen DS3 WRC was victorious in just three events. Sebastien Loeb competed in just four events and won two of them (Monte-Carlo and Argentina) while Dani Sordo scored his last win so far at ADAC Rallye Deutschland. Citroen’s leading driver was Mikko Hirvonen, who scored five podiums to finish 4th in the final classification. Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT finished second in the manufacturers’ standings.
Robert Kubica among DS3 drivers
Citroen’s second team, named Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT and led by Khalid Al Qassimi, finished 6th in the championship standings. Five different drivers competed in their #10 DS3 – Al Qassimi, Sordo, Kris Meeke, Chris Atkinson and Robert Kubica.
Just two drivers competed with DS3 WRC in the full season of the 2014 World Rally Championship – Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg. They were driving the factory-entered cars while Khalid Al Qassimi entered four events with #12 car. Citroen finished second in the manufacturers’ standings behind Volkswagen, although Citroen drivers didn’t score any victories. Ostberg took four podiums and finished fifth in the drivers’ standings, Meeke was also four times on the podium and finished seventh.
Maiden win for Meeke at Rally Argentina
Kris Meeke participated in all races of the 2015 World Rally Championship and scored his first career victory at Rally Argentina. Mads Ostberg was driving the #4 car at 11 events, giving the car to Sebastien Loeb in his one-off appearance at Monte-Carlo. Khalid Al Qassimi was again the leading driver in the #12 DS3, sharing the car with Stephane Lefebvre. Two more drivers had one-off appearances at Monte-Carlo with Citroen – Sebastien Chardonnet and Yuriy Protasov.
Two more wins for Meeke and DS3 in the 2016 WRC season
In 2016, Citroen officially withdrew from championship to focus on the development of the new car for 2017. The old DS3 WRC would compete at selected events under the banner of Khalid Al Qassimi’s Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team, with Kris Meeke, Stephane Lefebvre and Craig Breen as drivers. In May, Meeke scored his second victory at Rally Portugal. In July, Meeke became the first ever British driver to win Rally Finland.
Video : Citroen C3 WRC raising dirt while being tested in Finland, 2017