Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team has changed its line-up for Rally Italia Sardegna (8-11 June), with the arrival of Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger in the no.9 Citroën C3 WRC.
At the halfway stage of the season, this mutually beneficial opportunity will enable the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT to take advantage of the experience of Andreas Mikkelsen and Anders Jaeger, third place finishers in the 2016 World Rally Championship.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian duo will make their return to the championship’s top category in a 2017 specification World Rally Car.
Citroën Racing remains true to its policy aimed at identifying and developing talented young rally drivers, and shall honour its commitments. Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau will be back in the C3 WRC at Rally Poland (29 June-2 July).
When it returned as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship, Citroën’s main target was to win rallies in normal racing conditions. Having scored one win, secured at Rally Guanajuato Mexico, this target has been partially achieved.
The events of the first half of the season have nonetheless led to Citroën Racing studying the expansion of its driver line-up. Andreas Mikkelsen is therefore set to compete on behalf of the team on a one-off basis at Rally Italia Sardegna. Having finished third in the 2016 World Championship, winning two rounds in the process, but without a WRC drive this season, the Norwegian will be making his first appearance in the Citroën C3 WRC. In order to prepare as efficiently as possible, Citroën Racing will be organising a day of testing before the rally.
Due to this one-off appearance, Stéphane Lefebvre will not be competing at Rally Italia Sardegna.
The Frenchman will take part in the recce for the event, before focusing on his next competitive outing at Rally Poland.
In taking this opportunity to call upon an experienced and available driver, Citroën has restated its determination to be fully successful on its return as a works team in the FIA World Rally Championship.
Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal: “After the first six rounds of the season, it would appear that the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT’s results have fallen a little short of the targets set at the start of the year. At the same time, Andreas Mikkelsen has been actively looking for a drive in the WRC’s top category. We have therefore come to an agreement for him to compete at Rally Italia Sardegna in one of our C3 WRCs. I think I can say that we are all delighted with this opportunity. Andreas has a fair amount of experience at this rally, which is not the case for us since the Abu Dhabi Total WRT didn’t compete in Sardinia last year. Given his limited preparation, Andreas won’t have a specific target for the rally.
We’ll just be looking for him to drive at a pace that is consistent with how comfortable he feels in the car. We would like to thank the FIA and Skoda Motorsport for agreeing to this change and Stéphane Lefebvre, who is giving up his place on this rally. This is not a sanction of any kind, nor does it call into question our investment in the young drivers. The decision is merely intended to maximise Citroën’s chances. Stéphane accepted that it was necessary to put the team first in this case; he will still be in Sardinia to take part in recce and will then be competing at Rally Poland.”
Andreas Mikkelsen: “It’s not a secret that I have been looking for a solution to keep competing in the top category of the WRC since the end of the 2016 season. I’m therefore very happy to be joining the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Italia Sardegna. Citroën has an impressive competitive record in the WRC and I’m delighted to be able to work with a team like this. In winning the season’s opening gravel rally, the Citroën C3 WRC has shown it has potential and it seems to be making regular progress. I can’t wait to get my bearings in testing and then start working on preparing for the rally. I’ll no doubt be short of running time in the car at the start, but the main thing for me is to be back racing in the leading category in a strong team. I would like to thank everyone who has worked to make this opportunity possible.”