Test with 2016 WRC car helped sort Citroen's new car on asphalt
|By David Evans||Thursday, April 13th 2017, 09:26 GMT|
A 'back to basics' test involving Citroen's old-spec DS3 triggered the turnaround in asphalt form that allowed Kris Meeke to lead the Tour of Corsica in the new C3 WRC.
Though Meeke arrived in France having won the previous World Rally Championship round in Mexico on gravel, there were question marks over the new Citroen's asphalt pace after the team had struggled on the Monte Carlo opener.
But Meeke led Corsica through the opening leg before an oil-related engine failure put him out on day two.
"OK, we're all gutted by the result, but the bigger picture is the pace we have shown and the speed we've got from the car," he said.
Meeke successfully pushed for Citroen to return to its original asphalt test road in Fontjoncouse to start the set-up process again, with a previous-generation DS3 brought along too as a benchmark.
"For me it was important to get back to the first test road and make the car work there. We did that," Meeke said.
"Having the DS3 there helped. Don't forget, the DS3 was a pure-bred winner for this team, [Sebastien] Loeb dominated in it and latterly I was able to use the car to push the Volkswagens.
"What we needed was to take the recipe from that car, put it into the new one and make the car work on that road.
"I didn't drive the DS3 for long, maybe only 20 or 30 kilometres, but it was enough to get the feeling and know what the feeling was that I wanted from the C3.
"We were able to recreate that feeling and that helped so much when we came out to Corsica for the pre-event test.
"During the event, the car was sensational. I just didn't want to stop driving it.
"It was absolutely fantastic and that's the positive for me from Corsica.
"We could have won it, we didn't, but we've certainly shown we've a car which can win anywhere from here on in."
Though using the DS3 helped, team principal Yves Matton said Citroen had being leaning too heavily on technology that had been successful in past, particularly in terms of suspension.
"We understand that what we learned on the previous cars is not always the best technical way for this car - that was quite important," Matton told Autosport.
"Some solutions from the past are not the proper ones for the new car.
"We had to go back to try to find a reference and see where we are and on which topic we have to work.
"In only a few days we were able to take a huge step.
"Corsica is disappointing in one way, but after the last two rallies we showed that the car and Kris are able to fight at the right level on Tarmac and on gravel."