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Citroen DS3 WRC (2010): Loeb's new company wheels

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 00:00:00 -0700

This is the new Citroën DS3 WRC, just unveiled at the 2010 Paris motor show. And it’s the car that everyone interested in world rallying has been waiting for – it’s Sébastien Loeb’s wheels for the 2011 World Rally Championship. Okay, we know it’s not as highly anticipated as the Mini Countryman WRC, but the reason we’re excited is that this could be the car to end Loeb’s reign – the Frenchman has won the last six WRC titles, will almost certainly take his seventh this year, but having an all-new car will hopefully reset the field and give Ford’s Fiesta RS WRC a chance. Of course, that might not happen, so you could be looking at the dominant force of World Rallying for the next five years, but here’s hoping the new rules shake things up…

That’s right. New WRC rules in 2011 will wave goodbye to ultra-expensive rally machines with turbocharged 2.0-litre engines, and usher in cheaper cars with turbo’d 1.6-litre lumps. The aim is to encourage more manufacturers (and privateers) to take part, and the downsized and forced-induction engines are also in line with the current trend in roads cars.

Thus under the bonnet of the Citroën DS3 WRC is a direct-injection and 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, originally developed for roads cars with BMW (and which will also power the Mini Countryman WRC) but tweaked and tuned by Citroën Racing to produce 300bhp. There’s a four-wheel drive system as well – complete with front and rear diffs – plus a six-speed sequential gearbox, a stripped and caged interior, and the usual bulging body kit.

The DS3 WRC will debut at the opening round of the next year’s World Rally Championship, Rally Sweden in February 2011. Soon-to-be-champ Sébastien Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena have already been confirmed, and another hot Sébastien (Ogier, plus co-driver Julien Ingrassia) will also drive the new Citroën DS3 WRC in 2011.

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By Ben Pulman