Citroën Racing is continuing to develop their 2017 World Rally Car in Portugal, less than a month after the race. Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre achieved considerable mileage during the four-day test despite challenging weather variations and conditions.
The initial test was completed in southern France. Almost immediately after, Citroën Racing took their 2017 World Rally Car to the Algarve in Portugal for a second set of development test runs. The car is a prototype assembled by the Versailles Technical Centre. The testing team of Kris Meeke, Paul Nagle, Stéphane Lefebvre and Gabin Moreau had their hands full negotiating the car through fog, rain and hail as well as sunny weather, in preparation for the Rally de Portugal where they will be part of the Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
Laurent Fregosi, Technical Director of Citroën Racing said that they were very thankful to put the car through such a variety of weather conditions to thoroughly evaluate the possible set-ups and how the body withstood accumulations of mud. The test objectives included assessing how the car’s components reliability held up. Mileage for each part is recorded and verified with the specifications. Additionally, Fregosi adds that they “also focused on looking for performance and driver comfort.”
Fregosi, an INSA Lyon Engineering graduate, has been with Citroën Racing since 1995, the year the ZX Grand Raid triumphed at the Dakar Rally. Beginning with the Xsara Kit-Car, Fregosi has been involved on all Citroën rally programmes. At the beginning of 2005, he became the Chassis Chief Engineer, succeeding Xavier Mestelan-Pinon. Fregosi has worked on the 2017 programme for more than a year. Now the Technical Director, he recounts the car’s genesis.
Fregosi said that the two World Rally Car evaluation sessions under challenging conditions where no significant issues were identified was “very satisfying” and gratifying for all involved in its development in the past year. The development process started with an agreement over specifications under FIA rules, and Citroën’s marketing objectives. After the base model was selected, CAD configuration of the powertrain, petrol tank, spare wheel and other components was done. The roll cage design was derived from the resulting layout and the mandatory crew position.
The design team was responsible for the initial schematics, including every component’s particular design. The unifying principle was that components should be lightweight but resilient, and contribute to a lower centre of gravity. Input and opinions from all crews, technicians and engineers were considered. However, improvements are still required for the removal of some components that might need replacement later in service.
“As ever, the work done factored in the experience acquired over the last twenty years or so at the highest level of world rallying,” added Fregosi. He also said that they “added to [their] knowledge base by completing tests with a DS 3 WRC development mule.” Citroën eased off its development process in 2014, as they tested some innovations for the future. By using a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC engine, the car now had the equivalent power output as it will have next year. The newest suspension system was also evaluated.