Al Qassimi tips Citroen Abu Dhabi to bounce back in 2014
Sheikh Khalid Al Qassimi expects the Citroën Abu Dhabi Total World Rally Team to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 World Rally Championship campaign and launch a major bid to win back the manufacturers’ crown next season.
Citroën Racing Team Principal Yves Matton has yet to announce his two senior drivers for the 2014 WRC series, but Al Qassimi believes the eight-time world champions will select a pairing who can challenge for the title.
Matton will be consulting Al Qassimi over the choice of drivers, and the Abu Dhabi Racing chairman said today: “We have a lot to think about, but we’ll make the right choice for the team and I’m confident that we’ll be much stronger next year.
“It was always going to be a difficult season without Sébastien Loeb in the No.1 spot because he had been such a dominant driver. But this is still the team which won the manufacturers’ title eight years running, and we can use the experience and knowledge we have at our disposal to mount a bigger challenge next season.”
Al Qassimi will again contest a selected number of WRC events next season with the Abu Dhabi Citroën Total WRT, the second team created by the partnership between Abu Dhabi Racing and Citroën which was launched at the end of last year.
Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen and Spain’s Dani Sordo ended the 2013 season in fourth and fifth places respectively in the drivers’ standings as the Citroën Abu Dhabi team took runners up spot in the manufacturers’ championship.
Sordo who scored his maiden WRC victory in Germany, finished seventh in the final round, last weekend’s Wales Rally GB, while Hirvonen crashed out of the event, as did Poland’s Robert Kubica who was driving Al Qassimi’s Abu Dhabi Citroën DS3.
Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke is the other obvious contender for a place in the Citroën Abu Dhabi team next season, having impressed with his rally pace in Finland and Australia, despite failing to finish the two events.
“Although we have lost our titles, last weekend’s actual result doesn’t really tell the story of our season,” said Matton.
“We have been quick at pretty much all of the rallies, but we’ve often been unlucky not to convert that speed into results.
“The curtain falls on a pivotal season and we will now quickly turn our attention to 2014. There are many possible options as regards the drivers of our DS3 WRCs. We’ll take the time needed to finalise the discussions before announcing the line-up of our team for next season.”
The Citroën Abu Dhabi team did manage to finish the season with two successes, with Kubica securing the WRC2 title and Sébastien Chardonnet winning the WRC3 championship.