Since Citroën was founded in 1919, the company has always combined adventure and competition with its industrial activities. Today, Citroën Racing is the heir to the spirit that drove the mythic ‘Croisières’, the brainchild of André Citroën.
ADVENTURES AND RECORDS
The next chapter in Citroën’s achievements was written on the Montlhéry circuit. The French make tuned its 8cv, 10cv and 15cv models and set a series of records. In four years these ‘Rosalies’, as they were called, accumulated 192 world records! Among the major successes was ‘Rosalie IV’ – an 8cv with streamlined single-seater-like bodywork – which covered 300,000 kilometres in 133 days (almost 94 km/h average speed), with seven drivers relaying one another every five hours!
TECHNOLOGY AT THE SERVICE OF COMPETITION
The SM followed in the DS’s footsteps and battled with other GTs of its era winning the 1971 Moroccan Rally. This multi-purpose coupe also raced in the Spa 24 Hours. A few years later it was the CX’s turn to score numerous victories in long-distance rallies.
In 1981 Citroën began to develop a new racing car, the little Visa. The first Visa Trophy was homologated in Group 5 and served as the base for the Group B Visa 1000 Pistes unveiled in 1984. Citroën then moved up a step with its BX 4TC, a Group B evolution. Only five months after its debut, it was withdrawn from racing as the Group B era came to an end in World Rally Championship.
THE BIRTH OF A WINNING MACHINE
On 29th December 1990 the ZX Grand Raid left Paris and set off for Dakar via Tripoli. After 6,747 timed kilometres Ari Vatanen won this mythic event on Citroën Sport’s first participation. The team added three more victories to its laurels with Pierre Lartigue in 1994, 1995 and 1996. During this period Citroën racked up five Manufacturers’ World Championship titles on the trot, as well as four Drivers’ titles with Pierre Lartigue. In six seasons the Citroën ZX Grand Raid won 36 out of the 42 events in which it took part!
WORLD RALLY CITROËN!
In less than two seasons the Xsara kit-car became a benchmark, and Philippe Bugalski won two French Championship titles on the trot. What was even better was that the Xsara kit-car, with 2-wheel drive and a normally aspirated engine, beat all the WRCs in two events counting for the 1999 World Rally Championship (Catalunya and Tour de Corse).
In 2001 Citroën Sport gave the Xsara WRC its debut with a partial world championship programme. Bugalski came eighth in the Catalunya Rally on his first appearance in the WRC.Sébastien Loeb then finished in second place in the Sanremo Rally, and Jesus Puras gave the Xsara WRC its first win in the World Rally Championship in Rally France. It was the start of a new era!
The following year, when Citroën took part in its first full championship, the make won the Manufacturers’ World Championship title thanks to a dream team consisting of Carlos Sainz, the late Colin McRae and Sébastien Loeb.
Although Citroën withdrew from racing in 2006, Loeb continued to drive a privately-entered Xsara winning his third consecutive drivers’ title.
The French company returned to the World Rally Championship in 2007 with its C4 WRC. Thanks to this car the double chevron make added another four drivers’ titles for Loeb, and three more manufacturers’ crowns to its laurels between 2008 and 2010.
In 2011, new regulations came into force. The DS3 WRC won ten out of the thirteen rallies giving Citroën its seventh World Manufacturers’ title, while Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena clinched their eight consecutive drivers’ world title.
In parallel to its works involvement, Citroën sells a range of cars aimed at privateers through its client/competition department. The latest, the DS3 R3, a direct descendant of the Visas, ZXs, AXs, Saxos and C2s, has become a benchmark for private drivers in search of first-class performance.