For the first time this season, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team is to contest a rally with a line-up of three C3 WRCs. Following on from their dramatic win in Mexico, Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will lead the charge, alongside Craig Breen/Scott Martin and Stéphane Lefebvre/Gabin Moreau.
Held in October last year, the French round of the World Championship has therefore been moved this year to nestle between rallies in Mexico and Argentina. A very welcome reorganisation, which avoids there being a long uninterrupted series of six gravel rallies. As a result, the organisers have not made any drastic changes to the route, which is almost identical the one used in 2016. After an opening leg on roads around Ajaccio, the competitors will stay in the Bastia region on Saturday, before fighting it out on stages close to Porto-Vecchio on the final day. The itinerary of this sixtieth edition of the rally features only ten stages. Fifth overall last October, Craig Breen and his co-driver Scott Martin will be able to call upon their experience and aim for an even better result this year. Since Monte-Carlo is not regarded as an exclusively tarmac rally, Tour de Corse will therefore see the 2017 World Rally Cars fight it out on this surface for the first time. Keen observers – especially the teams’ engineers – will therefore be eager to compare the performances of the cars to keep defining a pecking order. With three different manufacturers winning the first three rallies, this season looks set to be a very open contest!
Obviously, Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT would not be averse to bucking the trend by racking up a second consecutive win. In order to maximise its chances, the team is entering three C3 WRCs for the first time. Kris Meeke, Craig Breen and Stéphane Lefebvre are all nominated to score points in the Manufacturers’ World Championship, bearing in mind that only the two highest-placed cars can actually earn points. In the official Citroen event preview Craig said “I was surprised to learn that I’m the team’s most experienced driver at this rally! It’s true that I know the Tour de Corse very well and I really love racing here. There are some similarities with conditions in Ireland, like the unpredictable weather and the uneven surface of the roads, which are sometimes in poor condition… Last year, I had a good feeling on my first tarmac rally in a WRC. This year, I hope I’ll be able to put together a series of stages with a good level of confidence. It really is all about confidence with these new cars! If I can manage to do that, then we should secure a good result.”