Consistently among the leaders since the start of the season, the C3 R5 is set to return to international and French racing at Rally Estonia (WRC) and Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (3-5 September), where it will have five and nine entries respectively.
- he year got off to a flying start for the C3 R5, with Mads Østberg winning the WRC2 class in Monte-Carlo and an unprecedented one-two-three-four finish in the WRC3 (Eric Camilli, Nicolas Ciamin, Yoann Bonato and Yohan Rossel). This magnificent start was followed by further success: Østberg topped the WRC2 class again in Sweden whilst Marco Bulacia took the WRC3 honours in Mexico. Yoann Bonato drove his C3 R5 to victory at the Rallye du Touquet-Pas de Calais in the opening round of the French Rally championship, whilst Kris Princen claimed a fine second place at the first round of the Belgian Rally championship in Van Haspengouw. Since racing resumed, the competitiveness of the C3 R5 has shown no signs of waning: Alexey Lukyanuk drove it to victory at Rally di Roma in the European Rally Championship before Østberg and Lukyanuk grabbed a double podium in it (2nd and 3rd) at Rally Liepaja in Latvia, also part of the ERC. At the same time, the C3 R5 has also dominated in Spain with Pepe Lopez and in Italy with Andrea Crugnola, evidence of how easy the car is to drive and its performance level on any surface.
- There will be five C3 R5s competing in Rally Estonia (4-6 September) as the world championship resumes. Mads Østberg will lead the way in the WRC2, whilst the other four cars – driven by Marco Bulacia, current joint leader of the WRC3 class, Yohan Rossel, the reigning French champion, Nicolas Ciamin and Sean Johnston – will be looking to impress in the WRC3 category, where there are no fewer than twenty-two entries! Former overall winner of the event (2011 and 2012), and very comfortable on Estonia’s fast roads – not unlike those found in Finland – the 32 year-old Norwegian is determined to use all of his experience to cement his lead in the WRC2. Although this rally is new to the other four drivers, they will be able prepare for it in testing held before the start and give themselves every chance of getting the best possible result in Estonia. They will then tackle the event’s seventeen stages and competitive distance of almost 234 kilometres.
- Meanwhile, the C3 R5 will also be one of the leading cars at Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (3-5 September), as the French Rally Championship gets underway again. The car will be looking to rack up a third successive championship title to go with those won in 2018 and 2019. It made the perfect start to the 2020 season, with Yoann Bonato winning Rallye du Touquet-Pas de Calais. The French driver, a three-time winner of the event (2016, 2017 and 2018), will undoubtedly be one of the favourites for victory on the superb tarmac roads around Morzine, but he will have to contend with a 31-strong field of R5 category cars! The line-up features nine C3 R5s, including Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, the latest addition to the #C3R5Family (following his win in last year’s 208 Rally Cup), who will be keen to up his pace after a steady debut at Le Touquet (5th). There will also be Quentin Gilbert (2nd at Mont-Blanc in 2018, 3rd in 2019), Pierre Roché, the recent winner of Rallye d’Autun, and William Wagner, who was giving Bonato a serious run for his money at Le Touquet before going off. Finally, the C3 R5s of Jean-Michel Da Cunha, winner of the 2019 French Rally Cup, Laurent Lacomy, Maxime Lecureux and Philippe Grieffenberg will all be worth watching over the competitive distance of 184 kilometres (13 stages).
WHAT THEY SAID…
Didier Clément, Head of Customer Racing, Citroën Racing:
“Despite the difficult circumstances, we have kept working hard to enable our customers to fight for victory in the national and international championships. Since racing resumed, the C3R5 has added several podium finishes and wins to its impressive record in Spain, Italy, Norway, Portugal, ERC, etc. We’re really looking forward now to competing again in the WRC and defending our lead in the WRC2 with the C3R5 and Mads Østberg. We’re going to have to manage the lead built up with the wins in Monte Carlo and Sweden. That’s going to be one of the challenges for us in Estonia. As part of our preparations, we entered the C3R5 at Rally Liepaja in the ERC and scheduled an extra test session in Estonia. At the same time, we held a test session on tarmac to fine-tune preparations for the resumption of the French championship at Mont Blanc, a very demanding rally. We’ve got a big line-up for that event too, with nine C3 R5s entered including the championship leader, Yoann Bonato. It is essential to stay on course to turn the C3 R5 into a powerful weapon.”
Mads Østberg, WRC2 leader with the C3 R5
“First and foremost, I’m really happy to be back racing in the WRC, especially in Estonia, which a rally I have won twice before. I know the stages very well and have some excellent memories from here so I can’t wait to get started. Competing in Rally Liepaja in Latvia helped me to get back up to speed after such a long time away from competitive action. We also managed to improve during the course of the rally. And with the testing scheduled this weekend in Estonia, which will enable us to fine-tune a few more details, I’m convinced that we will be well prepared for this race. I’m determined to get a good result here and strengthen my hold on the lead in the WRC2.”
Marco Bulacia, WRC3 joint leader with the C3 R5
“Given that I’m in a good position in the WRC3 championship, I’m very keen to take away a good result from Estonia. Although it will be my first appearance at the rally, I have a full day of pre-event testing scheduled and we’re going to use the sessions to help me feel comfortable in my C3 R5 on this surface. It will then be a question of taking good pace notes so that we can be competitive on the stages, which are renowned for being very fast.”
Yoann Bonato, French Rally Championship leader with the C3 R5
“Obviously, I can’t wait to get back racing! But we’ll have to be on our game straight away because I won’t be the only one who feels that way and all my rivals seem very motivated. And with a curtailed calendar, each result will be crucial. Mont-Blanc is a rally where I’ve always done well and there are quite a few new features this year. For the drivers, it’s always nice for us when the itinerary is updated. The organiser has gone to great lengths to ensure the event can go ahead, so I hope everyone will comply fully with the health safety instructions and that the championship can therefore be completed.”