[YesAuto Wonderful Car Life] When it comes to auto racing, what do you usually care about most? If you only look at the Moments, you will find that apart from F1, it is still F1, and you rarely see the forwarding of other events. In fact, the FIA has four major events, including the WRC, which is as famous as F1, the World Rally Championship that began in 1973. In this competition, there is a brand that has maintained a strong competitiveness and won the 100th championship in the history of the WRC this year. This brand is Citroen. At this year’s brand centennial celebration, we also saw many Citroen cars on the scene, and we took this opportunity to share with you Citroen’s WRC history.
■ Citroen's 100-year adventure and sports history
When talking about Citroen, we think of words like “design”, “comfort” and “personality”. In fact, there is “adventure” in Citroen's brand genes. Since the establishment of the brand in 1919, it has been closely connected with the risk factor. The famous world voyage has embodied the courage and confidence of this French brand.
The founder, Andre Citroen, believes that cars are a powerful tool to bring people closer together and promote exchanges between civilizations. So when the brand was not long established (1921), in order to prove the performance of the car, Citroen set out for a five-car fleet to make a pioneering move across the Sahara Desert and set a record of completion (the end of 1922). Later, vehicles were dispatched for a series of expeditions, including trips to Africa, the East, and North Africa.
Like other brands with a long history in the world, Citroen has been proving its strength to people by challenging records and tracks. What is commendable is that in addition to launching a national car like 2CV, it is also committed to realizing the dream of civilians in racing. The 2CV Cross, which was launched in 1972, is a good example. The performance of the 2CV Cross is naturally inferior to conventional racing cars, but it is still very popular after its launch. Just like an ordinary Disco, we just shake it normally; the car is divided into fast and slow, but the joy of driving is the same.
Citroen has also achieved outstanding results in cross-country rallying over the years. In addition to the Dakar Rally mentioned above, the invincible ZX GrandRaids won 36 victories in 42 games of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup and won 5 times. Manufacturer and driver's first title (Pierre Latier won the first place from 1993 to 1996, and Ali Watanen was the driver's champion in 1997). Subsequently, Citroen decided to withdraw from the off-road rally and focus on participating in the traditional rally.
■ How do latecomers “dominate” the WRC arena
The WRC (World Rally Championship) is known as the closest car race to the real world, because the track is composed of domestic roads provided by the host countries, including ice and snow, harsh mountain roads, highways, grasslands, etc. The entire race was played on the most representative and dangerous stages of the world, such as rain forest mud, snow, desert and mountain roads. All roads were not specially redesigned and transformed. The degree of difficulty can be imagined.
In 1998, it was Citroen's first WRC race. In the Spanish and French races, two Citroen drivers surpassed many four-wheel drive cars to win the championship. At that time, many people thought that this result was quite proud of Citroen's first entry. But Citroen was not satisfied with the status quo. They were developing an advanced version of the WRC race car at the time. Citroen already knew that its performance was more “abnormal” and naturally more confident.
If you look at the records of previous WRC drivers' championships and team championships, you can find that each brand takes turns taking turns, usually two to three consecutive championships, and rarely can win more than three consecutive championships. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lancia won the constructors’ championship for six consecutive years, which is a record. In the 1990s, Japanese manufacturers began to exert efforts, Toyota, Subaru and Mitsubishi all performed well. Since 2000, the French Peugeot and Citroen have shown absolute strength, especially Citroen's record of 8 championships in 10 years, I am afraid it will be difficult to catch up in the future.
■ Not all smooth sailing, dominance began in 2003
After emerging, the race behind Citroen was not all smooth sailing. In the 2002 season, Citroen participated in 8 of the 14 WRC events throughout the year. Loeb and his navigator Daniel Elena had won the Monte Carlo Rally, but due to technical penalties, they could only be ranked second. Judging from the year-end rankings, Loeb ranked only 10th among all cars, and Citroen naturally missed the top three.
Thanks to the addition of Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz, the strength of the Citroen team has been greatly improved. Especially in the first race of the year, the three drivers took the top three places and were very strong. In the end, Citroen won the team championship that season with the efforts of three drivers. Regrettably, Loeb resigned from the three races in Turkey, Argentina and Greece (a total of twelve races), and had no choice but to brush shoulders with the driver's champion and ranked second.
In the 2006 season, Citroen chose to truce for a year to better develop their cars. Loeb joined the semi-private team Kronos Citroen Racing, which has received a lot of support from the Citroen Sports Department. In the race of that season, Loeb won the Drivers' Championship again, although he injured his arm in a mountain bike accident and missed the races in Turkey, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
In the first season with the new car, Loeb was caught up in a battle with Ford driver Marcus Glenholm, only to ensure that he won the fourth consecutive driver's championship in the last British race. In 16 races throughout the year, Loeb won a total of 8 championships. You can imagine how fierce the competition was. Although another driver of the team won fourth place in the driver's year, Citroen still lags behind Ford in the team rankings. However, in the next three seasons from 2008 to 2010, Citroen once again demonstrated amazing dominance, winning the annual constructors' championship and driver's championship for three consecutive years.
Entering the 2011 season, in order to adapt to the new rules, Citroen launched the DS3 WRC car. At the same time, Ogier replaced Sordo and became Loeb's regular teammate. The two drove the brand new Citroen DS3 WRC each to achieve 5 victories. Loeb finally won the Drivers' Championship again, winning eight consecutive championships, Ogier ranked third, and Citroen won the Constructors' Championship again. Citroen continued its good form into the 2012 season, and Loeb also achieved the driver's ninth consecutive championship.
Perhaps it was the consecutive championships that made Loeb lose his desire for victory. Loeb's selective participation in 2013 made the Citroen team hurried. Throughout the 2013 season, Loeb only participated in four races. And then Loeb's retirement took away Citroen's fighting spirit, and the team has been suppressed by the Volkswagen team, which won the championship for four consecutive years. Although Citroen never gave up, including adjustments to the driver (Ogier's return) and the car, the results were minimal and failed to reproduce the glory of the year.
For the Citroen brand, being able to win the 100th WRC victory in the first event in 2019 is a “birthday gift” for itself. Just like the epic voyage that was launched, the WRC competition has narrowed the distance between the Citroen brand and car fans, because the racing track is the road that users drive every day. In the next race, whether Citroen can continue to break through itself, I believe this is the expectation of all fans.
Full text summary:
From the first competition so far, Citroen has participated in the WRC for 20 years. In the past 20 years, they have won 8 championships as a manufacturer, and Loeb has also completed an incredible 9 driver championships. There is no doubt that Citroen's performance in the WRC can be called dominant. With the 100th victory on schedule, we also have reason to expect more of Citroen's next performance.