Published on July 27th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
2017 Citroen World Rally Car Makes Asphalt Debut
Three months after its first outing, Citroën Racing’s 2017 World Rally Car has made its asphalt debut. On the bumpy roads of Aude in southern France, Kris Meeke and Stéphane Lefebvre learnt how the car behaves on this type of surface.
By opting to hold the first development sessions on gravel, the Citroën Racing engineers had given priority to a surface used in the majority of World Rally Championship events. “By test-driving the car in the toughest conditions first, we were able to check the reliability of all the components,” explained Citroën Racing Technical Director Laurent Fregosi.
In terms of the regulations, the differences between a WRC car’s gravel and asphalt setups are minimal, but they are vital. “The biggest change is in the suspension,” Fregosi continued. “We use lighter parts that allow us to reduce the ground clearance. The drivetrain kinematics are also adapted to the 18″ wheels. Large wheels mean we can increase brake disc diameter and use water-cooled callipers.
“During this first session, we worked in particular on the programming of the centre differential,” explained the engineer. “The aim is to distribute power between the front and rear axles according to the situation. Obviously, the settings will be different from one surface to another. The drivers were also able to assess the effects of mechanical parameters, such as spring stiffness, the anti-roll bar and the differential. Overall, the results were positive and we know where we are at. Once again, the car’s reliability allowed us to get plenty of kilometres in.”
“It’s exciting to be driving the WRC on asphalt for the first time,” said Kris Meeke. “Citroën Racing has always made really good cars for this surface and I think this will be no exception. On tarmac, you can really feel the changes introduced as a result of the new regulations, such as the higher power, the increased width, the power of the brakes. We are continuing the programme as planned and each run teaches us a little bit more. Every phase of the project is just as exciting as the last.”
Now with two dedicated chassis for development tests, Citroën Racing will be intensifying its testing programme over the next few weeks. On gravel and asphalt alike, the engineers and drivers are focused on their main objective: Rallye Monte-Carlo on 16 January 2017.