So, the age old question at the start of a new season: what have you been set in the way of targets for 2013?
“Just as in previous years, we will be aiming to win the Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ World Championships. After nine consecutive titles, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will only be taking part in four rallies, which therefore signals the start of a new era for the WRC. We will be doing all we can to ensure that Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen succeed them as world champions. They have finished as World Championship runners-up in four out of the last five years, so I think we can therefore say that they are ready to take the final step. With Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio joining the team, I think we have three quick and reliable crews, all capable of scoring big points at each rally. That will be the key to winning a ninth Manufacturers’ title.”
You are therefore going to ‘juggle’ three crews from one rally to the next. Aren’t you worried that might be disruptive for the team?
“The team has always been organised in such a way that no-one is irreplaceable. I think we are lucky to be able to count on Seb and Daniel at a few events. Quite apart from the points contribution we can expect from such a crew, their presence will allow us to make the transition gradually. Mikko will be able to take on the role of no.1 in relaxed fashion and Dani will be able to get back into the swing of things at the first two rallies before competing as one of the works drivers in Mexico.”
The World Championship is due to get underway without Khalid Al Qassimi and Scott Martin, who will begin their WRC season in Sweden. What is the reason for this?
We drew up the racing schedules for our crews taking into account our human and physical resources, which are not unlimited. Khalid is going to have a busy season. He has already completed several test sessions in the DS3 RRC and his test programme is set to continue until the start of the Middle East Rally Championship, which begins on January 25-26 in Qatar. The MERC is an important programme for Citroën Racing and we all believed that it was necessary for him to concentrate totally on this first objective.”