Citroën Racing has been installed in Versailles, a city known throughout the world, since the end of 2000. Its premises whose dimensions are in keeping with the ambitions of the 6-time World Championship-winning team form its backbone.
The doors of 19 Allée des Maronniers won’t open without invitation because of security and confidentiality. The laurels on the facade of the main building are those awarded to the FIA World Champions, and are a reminder of the make’s fabulous results. Before going into the factory itself, visitors pass through a display area where they can see some of the cars that have left their mark on the history of Citroën Racing: the ZX Grand Raid, the Xsara Kit-Car and WRC, the C2 Super 1600 and the C4 WRC.
The design office for chassis and engines is open plan, and it is where the engineers conceive the car’s components. From the overall design down to the tiniest detail, more than 4,000 plans are drawn on the CAO stations when a new car is being made. The calculations department is then asked to validate the dimensions of the parts. Citroën Racing uses the technologies developed by the PSA Group for the stress resistance tests of the materials and fluid mechanics.
In the very heart of the factory, the workshops, laboratories and parts stores take up 10,000 of the 15,000m2 building. The DS3 WRC was born in the plastics technology laboratory in the form of a ¼-scale model, which enabled the team to begin wind tunnel work and to refine the design before building the full-scale model.
A few metres away the sheet metal laboratory is where the chassis is constructed. Starting with a series production shell the engineers cut, adjust and weld the tubes of the rollcage, the transmission tunnel, the suspension mounting points and the various reinforcers.
Another key area is the Engine department, which assembles the 1.6-litre turbocharged direct injection engines used by the C-Elysée WTCC and the DS3 WRC. Around two weeks are required to build an engine. Employed both for the development and inspection of engines intended for racing, the two test beds undergo intensive use.
Around two weeks are necessary to assemble an engine, which is then run on the test bed next door.
The suspension, steering, brakes laboratory contains the work stations dedicated to dampers, wishbones, sub frames, knuckles, steering and hydraulic systems. The gearbox and transmission laboratory is organized on the same lines. On the floor above, the laboratory for the electrics and electronics looks after the electric harness. It takes seven weeks to mount each harness made up of several thousand connections.
All the components, whether they come from the factory laboratories or from sub-contractors, go through the measuring laboratory which has a 3-dimension measuring machine.
After being stocked in the huge parts store, the spare parts are brought to the main assembly shop where the sub-assemblies are built up. This large space is divided into two parts: one reserved for the rally cars, and the other for the test cars.
When the cars have been assembled they are given a shakedown on the Val d’Or test track, which has direct access from the factory. This is where the C-Elysée WTCCs and the DS3 WRCs have their first test run to validate the fact that they are running properly. After more than 700 hours’ work, they are loaded into the transporter, which leave the factory to go to the places where Citroën Racing has achieved so many feats.