Citroen Racing Withdraws From WRC Over Sebastien Ogier's Exit

Absurdity takes many forms, but Citroen Racing blaming Sebastien Ogier’s departure for the team’s exit from the World Rally Championship feels petty. “Due to the absence of a first-class driver for the 2020 season” is how the French outfit explains the decision, and between you and me, the C3 WRC isn’t exactly a world-class rally car.
Citroen C3 WRC 11 photos
Photo: Citroen
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But first, here’s a short history lesson. Citroen announced that it’s withdrawing from rallying at the end of 2015 to focus on the successor of the DS3 WRC. During 2016, the Déesse was trialed at a few events as a testbed for the development of the C3 WRC. Fast-forward to 2017, and Citroen was back in the world championship.

Very dramatic history lesson, isn’t it? Jokes aside, the C3 WRC snatched two victories in its first year, one in the second, and three in 2019. In other words, the manufacturers’ title was far off the target for Citroen, finishing on fourth, fourth, and third behind M-Sport Ford, Toyota, and Hyundai. Yup, the car just isn’t good enough…

It’s a bit of a shame to see the French outfit vent out its car-related frustrations on Ogier, and it’s extremely unfitting for a constructor with such a storied legacy in rallying. Remember the Loeb years, complete with nine drivers’ and eight manufacturers’ titles? Ah, those were the days when Citroen seemed virtually unstoppable!

Even more worrying is how Hayden Paddon, Mads Ostberg, and Craig Breen are available for a drive for 2020 yet Citroen doesn’t consider them worthy for the seat. On the other hand, let’s not forget that a world-class driver can’t drive a racing car that’s worse than the competition’s weapons of choice. Fernando Alonso during the Honda-engined McLaren years in Formula 1 stands as a testament to how important the car is.

On an ending note, here’s a question for everyone involved in this messy matter. Did Citroen do enough to keep Ogier onboard for 2020? The answer is no, and that's not enough when you’re a driver of Sebastien’s caliber. Chances are that Pierre Budar and his crew didn’t do too much to give the French rally driver hope for next season either.

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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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