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Championship 2014: World Rally Round-Up

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The DriveWrite Archives Rally Racing Topics:  World Rally Championship

Championship 2014: World Rally Round-Up

Geoff Maxted
December 10, 2013

World Rally Championship
Following the terrific season-ending Rally Wales last month DriveWrite wondered if Citroen might bow out as a works team. Given their lacklustre performance pretty much all year and getting consistently hammered by VW, it seemed possible that, as they plan to field a team in the World Touring Car Championship in 2014, they might concentrate their efforts on that.

They obviously read my musings because they have plainly decided to prove me spectacularly wrong. Citroën Racing have announced its line-up for the 2014 Championship. They have had a driver clearout. Out goes Mikko Hirvonen - who has seemed out of sorts at Citroen - and also Dani Sordo. Having won the World Rally Championship eight times between 2003 and 2012 (largely thanks to the retired Sebastien Loeb), Citroën Racing is to continue its involvement in WRC with two new high-potential pairings.

Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson will be the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s driver/co-driver pairings in the DS3 WRC next season. That’s great news for Kris whose full WRC season chance seemed in doubt due to his penchant for ploughing into the scenery. Obviously Citroen have spotted the underlying speed and talent. A third occasional car will be provided for Khalid Al Qassimi - see below.

Kris Meeke came through the ranks of Citroën Racing’s promotional formulas, before driving a C2 Super 1600 for the brand in the Junior WRC. IRC Champion in 2009, the Northern Irishman has since made a return to the World Rally Championship. His two 2013 appearances saw him put in some impressive performances at the wheel of the DS3 WRC, although with less than ideal final consequences. 2014 will see these occasional outings give way to a full programme, as he becomes the first British driver to race a full season since the late, great Colin McRae’s 2003 swansong with Citroën.

Twenty-six-year-old Mads Østberg has already taken part in 65 WRC rallies and won the Norwegian Championship four times. With seven podium finishes to his name at world level, he notched up his first WRC victory at the Rally of Portugal in 2012. “I am very happy and proud to be joining Citroën Racing,” explained the Norwegian. “We worked hard to get an official driver’s spot. After so many years watching Citroën win, it’s a dream come true to be part of this team.”

Like last year, Khalid Al Qassimi will take part in a selection of World Championship rallies. The driver from Abu Dhabi will line up for the races in Sweden, Portugal, Italy and Spain and will concentrate on taking part in the entire Middle East rally Championship.

It’s not all bad news for the former Citroen drivers. It looks like Mikko Hirvonen will return to his spiritual home at M-Sport (formerly Ford) and Dani Sordo has a great opportunity to shine as he will take part in several events as a third driver with the new kids on the block, Hyundai, backing up the flying Belgian, Thierry Neuville and Finn, Juho Hanninen in the team. Sadly there no longer seems a way back for DriveWrite favourite Petter Solberg who plans to remain instead on the Rallycross circuit.

Finally, there has been a scintilla of a suggestion attributed to the bloke in charge that television coverage is to improve; but after getting it so wrong on Citroen’s intentions for 2014, you’d better not quote me.

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