Both Volkswagen and Citroen have unveiled the cars they will campaign in the 2015 World Rally Championship season, ahead of the first round in Monte Carlo later this month.
VW Motorsport has dominated the WRC since it joined in 2013, winning 22 of 26 events. Bidding for its third successive Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ titles, the squad has been through the Polo R WRC with a fine-toothed comb.
Many of the car’s components have been “optimised” and a hydraulic paddle-shift gearbox has been developed; until now the current generation of WRC cars have had manual sequential ‘boxes.
Then there’s the new livery, featuring more obvious branding from the team’s main sponsor, Red Bull. The 2014 drive line-up of Sebastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen remain with the team. There’s no reason to think the VW hegemony won’t continue this year.
That won’t stop everyone else from trying, though. In 2014 Citroen endured its first winless season since it joined the top class of the WRC in 2001, so it will be keen to redress the balance this year.
Hope will be high that returning nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb will win his one-off outing in Monte Carlo, but its been 18 months or so since he last competed at the top level.
Citroen is staying tight-lipped about developments to the DS 3 WRC – though the team continues under the Citroen name, the car has been rebranded in line with the DS models’ separation as a stand-alone marque within the PSA Group. All we can say for sure is that the car will have the new type of gearbox.
Title sponsors Total and Abu Dhabi stay on, though the DS 3 will carry a new colour scheme commemorating the 60th anniversary of the original Citroen DS. Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg will drive for the outfit again, with Khalid Al Qassimi making selected appearances.
The 2015 WRC gets underway with the Monte Carlo Rally on 22 January.