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7 decades of sporting success

Think of motor sport and names such as Maserati, Ferrari, Mitsubishi all spring to mind but CitroŽn has been present in top class motor racing for more than seven decades. A full 71 years separate the "Rosalie" C6F, built in 1931, from the Xsara WRC that will compete in all of the 2003 World Rally Championship races.
Why? Quite simply because today, like yesterday, the racing circuit offers proof that the strength of an automotive brand lies in the quality of its technology and its capacity for innovation.
Based at Versailles-Satory, the CitroŽn Sport team, headed by Guy Frťquelin, is preparing to write a new page in CitroŽn's racing history.
More than 200 people are working flat out to prepare a busy international competition schedule. With 14 World Rally Championship (WRC) races in 2003, the participants in this sporting adventure face a demanding challenge. The races will be tough and the level of competition is high.

CitroŽn decided to rely on in-house expertise to develop its car - both chassis and engine - making the most of its technical know-how (in electronics especially) and its competition experience.
With months of intensive preparation (testing and races) starting in 2001, the CitroŽn Sport team has proved its capacity to rival the most serious competitors. The Xsara WRC is a strong contender on all types of terrain, as shown by the recent victory of Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in the Deutschland Rally.
The first event of 2003 will be the Monte Carlo Rally in January. The Xsara WRC should be ready for battle, on a circuit where it performed superbly last year.

How and why did a carmaker dedicated to freedom and to long distance expeditions such as the CroisiŤre Jaune and the crossing of the Sahara find itself involved in international rally competition; (cross-country or classic) bound by strict racing rules?
In fact, it was a natural process, guided by figures such as Renť Cotton, Guy Verrier and Guy Frťquelin - men dedicated to the pursuit of excellence - and by superlative drivers, such as Paul Coltelloni, Renť Trautmann, Lucien Bianchi, Ari Vatanen, Pierre Lartigue, Philippe Bugalski, Jesķs Puras and the promising Sebastien Loeb. What's more, motor racing provides a spectacular means to demonstrate the quality of a car and the team behind it, entirely dedicated to proving that the strength of an automotive brand lies in the quality of its technology and its capacity for innovation.

Since 1931, the year in which the CitroŽn C6F first appeared on the track at Montlhťry, the marque has always been present in top-level competition, rallying in particular. The adventure began in Monte Carlo in 1934, with FranÁois Lecot behind the wheel of a Traction 11 AL. Over the following months, he was to achieve a remarkable record: 400,000 kilometres in a Traction 11 AL in just one year!

He opened the way for a whole new generation of rallymen who immortalised the Traction in France and abroad. Spurred on by these successes, CitroŽn entered six DS 19s in the 1956 Monte Carlo Rally on a non-official basis. Unfortunately, Monte Carlo was not renowned for the snow and black ice on which the CitroŽn cars thrived. Disappointed, the marque's management decided to put off any further involvement in motor racing.

In 1959, CitroŽn's encounter with Renť Cotton was decisive. He had already engineered the victory of a team of private drivers - Coltelloni, Desrosiers and Alexandre - in the Monte Carlo rally. Modern rallies owe much to the initiatives he introduced, such as route reconnaissance, route cards, technical assistance plans, supply programmes, and the presence of a race doctor or physiotherapist.

From 1960 he switched to the DS and began forming a team for CitroŽn which included Renť Trautmann, Guy Verrier, Robert Neyret and Jean-Claude Ogier. Within a few years, his teams were winning practically all major international races (with a notable victory by Pauli Toivonen at Monte Carlo in 1966) and demonstrating in spectacular fashion the qualities of the DS: high-performance front-wheel drive, hydropneumatic suspension, power steering, roadholding, etc.

In 1965, with the racing department achieving world-class results, CitroŽn started entering its cars directly under its own name. This heralded the birth of CitroŽn's very first Racing Department. Pending the creation of the World Rally Championship in 1973, Paul Coltelloni took the European crown in 1959.

The major international rallies offered a new challenge for the CitroŽn racing teams. A moral victory in 1968 in the London to Sydney Marathon demonstrated that the high technology CitroŽn was also ruggedly reliable. From 1971, the newly launched SM raced in the Moroccan Rally. And with its first race came its first victory! CitroŽn cars were unstoppable, recording impossible average speeds on the roughest terrains. Then came the news of Renť Cotton's untimely death in 1972. Who better to succeed Renť Cotton than MarlŤne Cotton, his wife and associate, not only in the office but also for reconnaissance and assistance during the rallies? She was to become the first woman in the world to head the Racing Department of a major car manufacturer.
From 1972, MarlŤne Cotton took CitroŽn back to ice driving competitions, before turning her attention to Africa, with the Wembley-Munich in 1974. Only two DS 23s were entered, bringing the vehicle its last victory. The CX made a worthy successor, however, winning in Senegal in 1977 and 1978, despite budgetary restrictions for CitroŽn.

Then in 1980, Guy Verrier returned to CitroŽn to take charge of sporting activities. He was a seasoned campaigner, with experience at every level of motor racing. One of his goals was to organise CitroŽn's participation in the World Championship races, notably with the Group B Visa.
In 1989, the CitroŽn Sport Department was officially created, with Guy Frťquelin at its head. And from the very outset, this former rallyman set an ambitious objective: to take CitroŽn into the Rally-Raid programme. And initial results were promising. From their very first race in the Baja Espana in July 1990, the ZXs driven by Ari Vatanen et Jacky Ickx won a superb double victory.
Over the years, the CitroŽn Sport team has clocked up an impressive list of sporting achievements, with 36 wins in 42 races, including 4 victories in the Paris-Dakar (1991-1994-1995-1996), first place in the one-off Paris-Peking race of 1992 and five consecutive world titles between 1993 and 1997. These figures alone are enough to prove the incredible domination of Guy Frťquelin's teams in the FIA World Rally Championship.

Then, with the change in international regulations, CitroŽn returned to classic rallying, starting with a Saxo Kit Car in the French championship (vice-champion in 1997), before the arrival of the Xsara Kit Car, which went on to take numerous titles in France and abroad. It was in 1998 and 1999 that Philippe Bugalski made his name in national competitions, but also in the world championship, with victories in Catalunya and Corsica, ahead of the WRCs.
The next step was to move up from a two-wheel to a four-wheel drive with the Xsara T4. And in 2000, the Xsara T4 was the star of the French championship, again driven by Philippe Bugalski, who produced a flawless performance, taking the national title with seven victories in seven races. On the other side of the Pyrenees, Jesķs Puras won the Spanish rally title for the fifth consecutive year with the Xsara Kit Car, giving CitroŽn the manufacturer's title for the second time in a row.
Then, in 2001, the Xsara T4 became the Xsara WRC, ready to contend in the ferocious world of international rally competition. Jesķs Puras won the Tour of Corsica and Sebastien Loeb came second in the San Remo rally. A promising set of results for the Xsara WRC after only 4 races entered in 2001.
When it comes to sporting values, CitroŽn is also strongly attached to its various promotion formulas, a fertile breeding ground of new talent. In France and abroad, where CitroŽn is represented by its subsidiaries and/or importers, all its drivers share the same ambition: to race for victory with the colours of the double chevron brand!

Above - Brice Tirabassi in the Rallye du Limousin 2002

Sebastian Loeb in the Rallye Acropole 2002 - above left and in the Rallye Monte Carlo 2002 - above right

Thomas Radstrom in the WRC Sweden 2002 below

Assembly bay at Versailles-Satory below