Citroen Racing has unveiled the final look and livery of Kris’s charger for the 2017 World Rally Championship, the new C3 WRC.
Launched at an event in Abu Dhabi, to tie in with the team’s main sponsor, the undisguised C3 WRC finally shows how extreme the aerodynamics will be for 2017. It gets a huge two-element rear wing, plus aggressive vanes mounted on the front bumper. It features fake ‘Airbumps’ along the side (they’re actually carbonfibre reinforcement), to help publicise the practical door protection that features on conventional C3s.
Citroen Racing team boss Yves Matton said that Kris had played a ‘vital’ role in the development of the car, which has racked up more than 9000km of testing since its first runs back in April. ‘We needed a leader, who had plenty of technical experience and knowledge in terms of development,’ Matton said. ‘Kris has been developing racing cars for the PSA Group for more than ten years. He is a trained engineer and that means he has been able to provide detailed analysis at certain points. He is undoubtedly one of the main reasons we were able to stick to the schedule and meet our goals.’
The C3 is built to the WRC’s new 2017 regs, which bring back an ‘active’ centre differential and free up the engine with a larger turbo restrictor that boosts power to about 380bhp. The cars can be wider, too, and feature more extreme aerodynamic aids.
Kris expects the new cars to be a real challenge for drivers. ‘The 2017 car is an exciting machine. It’s quite a big step from 2016,’ he said. ‘We know the regulation changes but when you drive them in anger, they’re a different beast; you really have to be on your game, every metre, to keep on top of them. For me, the human element will come to the front even more in 2017, because in places it’s going to be difficult to extract the potential of these cars. At times they are so, so fast.
‘Let’s see when we get to Monte,’ he added, ‘We’ve been pushing hard in testing but you can never really tell until you get to competition and go up against others drivers and cars. I’m happy that we’ve done good work but there’s still always that thought in your mind, that we don’t know where we are in reference with our rivals.’
Citroen Racing has also confirmed that it will run two C3s on the first few rounds of the season, before expanding the line-up to three or four examples from May onwards. That means that for the opening event of 2017, Rallye Monte-Carlo, Kris will be joined in a C3 by Stephane Lefebvre, with Craig Breen using a DS 3 WRC. The Frenchman and Irishman will both be in C3s by mid-season, along with Citroen Racing’s fourth driver, Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi.