Citroën Racing has announced it has completed initial testing of its 2017-specification WRC competition car, with Kris Meeke successfully undertaking test stages on the gravel roads around the Château de Lastours, and then in Fontjoncouse, France.
The 2017 specifications for WRC cars see wide sweeping regulations changes, brought about in a bid to improve the sports appeal. Cars are now 55mm wider, whilst the relaxing of bodywork regulations grants a greater aerodynamic freedom to teams with a front bumper fitted with a splitter, prominent air inlets and outlets, a rear diffuser, all now permitted.
Under the bonnet, the 1.6-litre direct injection turbo engine is now fitted with a 36mm booster flange, like the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs. This results in peak power increasing to the region of 380bhp, whilst the minimum regulatory weight has been reduced by 25kg and central differentials are now also allowed.
Overseen by Laurent Fregosi, Citroën Racing’s new Technical Director, the development team chose the roads around Château de Lastours and Fontjoncouse as the base for testing. Regularly used by cross-country rally vehicles, the rocky gravel roads provided a demanding environment in which to test the strength of the chassis, the suspension, the gearbox and the bodywork.
To hide the aerodynamic features as much as possible, Citroën Racing’s latest creation was decorated with a special “camouflage” livery, with a red, white and black pattern created by Citroën’s design office.
“It’s always exciting to drive a car for the first time. But this is different, this is the start of a major new programme for Citroën Racing and new era for the WRC,” commented Kris Meeke. “That’s what makes this moment so special. I know that everyone has put in a lot of work to build this new car. So it’s special for them too! Now, we’re moving into a new stage of the process and it’s up to me to step up to the plate.”