Citroen's start to WRC 2017 season hurt by 'lack of preparation'
|By David Evans||Wednesday, March 8th 2017, 16:14 GMT|
Citroen technical director Laurent Fregosi has blamed a lack of preparation time for its worst start to a full-time World Rally Championship campaign.
The French manufacturer has struggled to make an impact on the first two rounds of the championship and lies fourth of four manufacturers entering this week's Rally Mexico.
Following a year-long sabbatical to test and develop its all-new C3 WRC, and in the wake of Volkswagen's departure, Citroen was among the favourites for 2017.
However its drivers have struggled to get the best out of the car in Monte Carlo and Sweden.
Craig Breen was Citroen's highest-placed finisher at the first two rounds, netting fifth in an old-spec DS 3 WRC at the season-opener and matching that in the C3 in Sweden.
Kris Meeke ran at the sharp end of both rallies before crashing and then being driven into by a non-competing car in the opener, and sliding off the road in Sweden.
"Our results in the opening two rounds of the season mainly come down to a lack of preparation on our part for the actual race conditions," Fregosi said.
"The situation will be different in Mexico, because the C3 WRC has done most of its running on gravel.
"For this, the season's opening gravel rally, we think and hope that we will enjoy better performance."
Meeke, 14th in the championship, and Stephane Lefebvre will be in Citroen's new challenger for this weekend's third round of the championship.
Breen will complete the recce only before returning to partner Meeke in Argentina, with Citroen to field three C3s from the Corsica leg of the championship in April.
Team principal Yves Matton said plenty had been learned during the squad's pre-Mexico test in Spain late last month.
"We questioned certain principles of the set-up and that helped us to identify the areas in which we can improve," Matton said.
"We are striving for a good performance level in Mexico.
"Given his [preferable] starting position for the opening leg, Kris will be trying to get among the leaders in the hope of kick-starting his season.
"Meanwhile, Stephane will need to go for position to score points for the manufacturers' championship."