Citroën Manufacturer Profile & Rally History

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Citroën Home Country: France France

The Citroën brand is named after company founder André Citroën. Throughout history Citroën made a name for being really unique and innovative cars. Often nothing seemed to go with any norms. I.e. when the compact class (C4 sized) Citroën GS was launched, in the first years you had the choice between two small boxer engines or a rotary (Wankel) engine. If you wanted a conventional car in that class you had to move on. Citroën is the brand that invented gearboxes, which led to the 2 chevrons symbolising crownwheel teeth as their brand logo. Citroën is also the creator of everything hydraulic, especially the famous hydropneumatic suspension, but also power assisted brakes and power steering! Poor André Citroën fell into deep financial and technical troubles when he engineered the first Front Wheel Drive car ever, he managed to realise the project but he died on the consequenses of gastric ulcer within days after this "Traction Avant" was officially launched - André never experienced what a massive innovation to automobile history he created with this! Such a shame André never got the reward personally. Self-supporting body shells, power steering, gearboxes, FWD, without daring-crazy Citroën our cars today would not be the same! And had André lived on for another few years, we would probably drive joystick controlled hovercrafts now since half a century....

André's death on the 7th July 1935 leaves the company without a director. Michelin financially supported André in his latest crisis and, without the chance of André paying back his huge debts, Michelin becomes the new head of Citroën. Michelin however is a tyre and not a car manufacturer and calls on the help of Peugeot, who appoint Pierre Boulanger as Citroën director in their name. Another incident to show that relation is the fact that Citroën's most historic model, the DS, is actually created by Talbot's head designer Walter Becchia as a replacement to the Panhard PL and CT models, and only is launched as a Citroën when the PSA related Panhard brand is discontinued as a car manufacturer. Later shares cross the table and Peugeot takes official control of Citroën.

It is maybe not so easy to understand what happened here. The problem of André Citroën as a character is that for one he had no siblings, for the other he was an engineer by heart and did not seem to care much about what people buy, bureaucracy and finance. André had strange ideas and had to get them working. Sell something? How boring! One famous saying is "We are Citroën, so let's burn cash and do things different". And about every time André was working on a new invention, it threw the company into deep financial trouble ever again. Yet he got his crazy ideas working and even the opposition adored him for that and did not want the company to die. See the massive help they got, Michelin, Peugeot, Panhard and in fact the most typical Citroën of all, the DS, was created by a Talbot designer 20 years after André's death! Peugeot/PSA still make an effort today of positioning Citroën on the market as futuristic and unusual cars. May André's spirit live on forever!

Citroën is one of the classic teams heavily into marathon rallies before the launch of the WRC. But there was a surprising reason behind that. First of all however Citroën’s rallying in the 1950s & 1960s circled around the famous, big ID and DS models. These were often run in near standard form in group 1, which makes their successes the more incredible. The ID & DS were very futuristic and innovative cars. I.e. I love it how in recent years Mercedes advertises their innovation of headlights that look round curves as they turn with the steering wheel on the expensive S-Class. This means it took Mercedes over 40 years to copy Citroën! (But then again, it took Mercedes 60 years to copy their "SLK-roof" from Peugeot.) Launched in 1955, apart from their futuristic, aerodynamic looks, these cars had everything hydraulic, even hydraulic suspension. Citroën also had an interesting driver line up for their selected events, consisting of Paul Frère, René Trautmann, Lucien Bianchi and Pauli Toivonen (Henri’s dad) amongst others. So Citroën started mainly in Monte Carlo, which they won in 1959 – Tour de Corse, which they won in 1961 & 1963 – and 1000 Lakes, which they won in 1962. In 1959 Paul Coltelloni won the ERC driving a Citroën ID (and an Alfa Giulia GTA) and in 1960 René Trautmann very nearly repeated this success, driving only Citroën ID, had it not been for him crashing out of the last event, the RAC.

Citroën as well won the Monte Carlo 1966, but this event is surrounded by curiosity: the works Minis where kicked out by the organisers because they had the wrong light bulbs and only that promoted Citroën to be the winner. This was a scandal that to the day is talked about. It is hard to believe that Citroën suffered more than they gained from that situation. But in fact Citroën found it impossible to convince the general public the decission had nothing to do with them, Pauli Toivonen left the team on the spot and the negative press Citroën received was immense, even though in reality Citroën themselves did not agree with what happened in Monte Carlo 1966! As a result of all that Citroën turned their back on FISA sanctionned European sprint rallies in disgust.

So now Citroën were regularly appearing in marathons and incredibly were mostly run in near standard spec in group 1. They competed on the Safari, won the Moroccan Rally in 1970 with the DS and again in 1971 with the SM, they actually won Liége-Sophia-Liége with their Belgian driver Lucien Bianchi already in 1961. And incredibly a Citroën DS won the famous World Cup Rally 1974, that is over 15(!) years after its first rally victory! But the most famous moment seems to be the London-Sydney Rally 1968, when after 15,000km of competition Lucien Bianchi crashed the works Citroën DS out of a massive lead with 100km to go! (Actually it was his navigator Alain Ogier crashing, it was not too rare that on these marathons navigators drove some portions of the distance.) In those days as well the sporty and futuristic SM model joined the frame of ID and DS and as well prototypes of DS and SM models were created that had simply the boot cut off to make the cars shorter and lighter. Later the CX was turned into a group 1 rally car as well, but by then the operation had lost momentum, helped by the fact that Citroën went through massive financial troubles and was since many years receiving help from Michelin and PSA who soon took 100% ownership.

In all that Citroën was a major show case of typical French life style and team internal friendliness, treating everybody as part of their family. Citroën’s service points had the best cuisine even to that degree that the finest vines were served to drivers(!) and mechanics. There were even rumours about other drivers pushing their teams to organize the service schedule around Citroën because Citroën had the best catering and would welcome drivers of the opposition into their camp. But one outstanding thing that is fact rather than a rumour, when Citroën’s sport director René Cotton died of cancer, rather than looking for other engineers or managers René’s wife Marlène Cotton was appointed to take over the show from 1971 until 1978! Of course, we are shy of absolutely nothing when researching through rally history. So we indeed found Marlène Cotton. Today she is involved with keeping the heritage of the Citroën SM alife, as in organising show events and writing publications about this automobile jewel. She re-married (the Automobiles Citroën PR boss, keep it in the family!) and nowadays goes under the name of Marlène Wolgensinger. She is the only female ever to be a rally works team director!

In more modern times, under former rally driver Guy Verrier, Citroën carried on with their unusual ideas. The next model that jumps to mind is the Visa. The Visa had Citroën back in European sprint style events, but it was very unusual as in total contrast to the intention of group B, Citroën used group B to create a budget car for amateurs! Next was the Citroën BX 4TC, more a full house group B project, however with little success. Haha, if you thought that was bad, one can only be grateful that Citroën was never made to rally the LN. The Talbot Samba used group B to the same effect as the Visa, the Peugeot 104 was a sister car to the Samba, but the Citroën LN was in fact a 104 with Citroën 2CV technology! After group B Citroën concentrated more again to help privateer and amateur drivers with some AX models. While there was also a ZX Kit Car for F2 rallying, Citroën’s program in the early 1990s was more effected by wearing the old clothes Peugeot grew out of. This wasn’t as bad as it sounds as this meant a raid program with what was basically a group B Peugeot 205 T16 in a Citroën ZX bodyshell. This had Citroën back on winning ways, they were near unbeatable on events such as the Paris-Dakar, Pharaohs, etc. for many years – in itself a testimony just how mindblowingly good the concept of the group B 205 T16 was! In 1998 Citroën was running an F2 Xsara Kit Car that had a lot of similarities to the Peugeot 306 Maxi and in 2000 Citroën created a WRCar, the Xsara T4. Next with 36 WRC event victories the ultra reliable C4 WRC became the most successful rally car of the (2 litre) WRCar era. Team driver Sébastien Loeb, a discovery from the Citroën Saxo Cup, is the modern show case of Citroën family affair and loyalty. It bears some curiosity to note that only in 2001 Citroën Sport got their own facilities. Throughout the 1990s Citroën Sport was working from Peugeot Sport’s headquarter and work shop. As well in Jean-Claude Vaucard the main development engineer behind Citroën Xsara T4 and Peugeot 205 T16 is one and the same person!

Just a small update: The success story goes on, but at the same time you are sadly allowed to question in which state the WRC is in. Strange rule changes, 2-car teams, M2 cars, point scoring modi, etc. mean it is impossible to find a high talent driver to give Sébastien Loeb a run for his money. Sure Loeb is good, but looking at his winning records I ask you: Is Loeb really 3 times as good as Colin McRae, 5 times as good as Walter Röhrl, etc., or is there a case of lack of competition? Anyway, at the end of 2012 we have Xsara WRC = 32 wins, C4 WRC = 36 wins, DS3 WRC = 20 wins and still counting! Citroën itself is at 90 wins, also a record that only Ford could deny them in the next few years. But than, that shows what I said at the start of this paragraph. Not taking anything away from Citroën, by far not, but I find it incredible that at the same time I wouldn’t consider Citroën as the most loyal and traditional name to this sport, that credit should rather go to their sisters Peugeot or to Ford. All those 90 wins were collected in the last decade and a bit only!

There is also a Citroën text before the 2017 C3 WRC campaign with Citroën's own motorsport stats at the start of the 2017 season:
http://citroen.rallye-info.com/article.asp?sid=1&stid=13197

COLOURS & TYRES:

For all their many years the ID, DS, SM & GS models were often, but not always completely light blue with a white roof. The Coltelloni ID in 1959 was brown and on Morocco 1972 the SMs were in gold metallic, to name the most notable exceptions. But Citroën’s house colours are red & white and that shows in all the following projects, although on a black base on the CX. The Visa, BX and AX were white with red symbols and writing, with the ZX F2 car they turned all red and the Xsara Kit Car and Xsara T4 are red with a white roof. Interestingly, while red & white remains being the Citroën colours, from round3 2009 the base colour on the C4 models changed back from red to white again. At the same time they renamed their sport department from Citroën Sport to Citroën Racing, which I find very odd, as this is rallying, not racing, you wouldn’t rename your local golf club into something football, just because both are games involving a ball it is still not the same discipline. Citroën also has the most loyal sponsorship deal ever. Although never a title sponsor, on the Moroccan Rallye 1971 the works Citroën's displayed Total decals, that until today, over 40 years later, graced every single works Citroën rally car since!

Tyres always were Michelin which is hardly surprising as Michelin is a former owner of Citroën until they exchanged some shares with PSA.

REGISTRATIONS:

Maybe you should look into our general regsitrations guide, as Citroën's ID-DS-SM-CX rallying went right through the period when Paris changed from "system1" to "system2". Now we have to look into this bit of history: Automobiles Citroën was founded in 1919 at the Quai de Javel in Paris. As you found above the company had more than its fair share of financial crisises. At some point it became clear that the Quai de Javel headquarters and factory were so outdated, that there was no economical point but to demolish them. Between 1973 & 1980 Citroën goes through a process where the Quai de Javel production is moved into complete new factories in Aulnay (93) and Rennes (35), while the headquarters are "temporarily" moved to 92208 Neuilly. Between 2001 and 2004 Autmobiles Citroën gradually returned headquarters into their very own, permanent facilities, a completely rebuilt historic Citroën site in the North of Paris (Quai de Javel, post code 75835). Already in 2001 Citroën Sport also moved into new facitilities in 78035 Versailles. The result of all this is, that ID-DS-SM-CX works rally cars were 75 registered on Citroën headquarters Quai de Javel. In 1980 the cars moved with the headquarter to Neuilly and displayed the 92 plate. Now that the "temporary" headquarter in Neuilly is eventually emptied, we found that during 2004 Citroën started gradually re-registering their existing 92 cars into the name of Citroën Sport itself, onto 78 plates. An interesting side note in this is, that Peugeot Sport is located in the same post code area, 78140 Vélizy. But while from 2004 works Citroën's are registered in the name of Citroën Sport, the Peugeot works cars don't show 78 plates but are registered on the address of PSA!

Chassis numbers: Citroën does a very unusual game here. They count like everybody else, but the rally car build numbers are actually 4-digit starting with a letter. Now every car manufacturer does have a code as model ID in its full chassis number, see Lancia ZLA037ARO000... for the Lancia 037. At Citroën in the late 1990s these model IDs are S1 for the Saxo, N0 for the Xsara or N6 for the Xsara 2.0 VTS, X1 for the Xantia or X7 for the Xantia V6 Activa, Y4 for the XM…. You see on these examples, although these codes identify a model line, for very special versions of a model line these can change. When a 4x4 floor pan for the Xsara was created, the Xsara code changed from N6 to T4. It is not quite clear if this was coincidence or not, but since you could read T4 as Turbo 4WD this chassis code was even publicly used as name for the first version Xsara WRCar, which indeed was not known as the Xsara WRC but the Xsara T4! However it is unlikely the idea to include the model ID part of the chassis numbers into the build numbers was invented because of the T4, as the Xsara F2 Kit Cars before already had build numbers N601 to N612 – see the N6 being the original model code of 2.0L Xsara shells and 12 F2 Kit Cars were made. The Xsara T4/WRC then has build numbers T401 to T432 and the C4 WRC has B501 to B521. B5 again seems curious here but – as strange as this may sound – the internal model code for the C4 is B5! With the DS3 WRC Citroën has however ended this route and does the most common way of build numbers without any letter codes now.

Citroën Rally Cars

Model Class
Citroën Citroën AX  Group A
Citroën Citroën BX  Group B
Citroën Citroën C2  Super 1600
Citroën Citroën C2  Class R2
Citroën Citroën C3  Class R5
Citroën Citroën C3  World Rally Car
Citroën Citroën C4  World Rally Car
Citroën Citroën CX  Group 2
Citroën Citroën CX  Group 1
Citroën Citroën CX  Group 2
Citroën Citroën CX  Group 1
Citroën Citroën CX  Group 2
Citroën Citroën DS  Group 1
Citroën Citroën DS3  Class R1
Citroën Citroën DS3  Class R3
Citroën Citroën DS3  Class R5
Citroën Citroën DS3  Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T
Citroën Citroën GS  Group 2
Citroën Citroën ID  Group 1
Citroën Citroën Saxo  Formula 2
Citroën Citroën Saxo  Super 1600
Citroën Citroën Saxo  Group A
Citroën Citroën SM  Group 1
Citroën Citroën Visa  Group B
Citroën Citroën Xsara  Formula 2
Citroën Citroën Xsara  World Rally Car
Citroën Citroën ZX  Formula 2

Rally Honour Roll

Year Class Place Manufacturer Events
2016 IRC Class R5 3rd. Citroën (132pts) 10

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2015 IRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 5th. Citroën (96pts) 10

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2015 WRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 2nd. Citroën (230pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2014 WRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 2nd. Citroën (210pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2014 IRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 5th. Citroën (44pts) 12

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2013 WRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 2nd. Citroën (280pts) 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 6th. 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2013 IRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 8th. Citroën (40pts) 12

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2012 WRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 1st. Citroën (453pts) 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 6th. 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 5th. 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2011 WRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 66th. Citroën (1pts) 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 1st. 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 4th. 13
Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 9th. 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar

2010 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Citroën (456pts) 13
World Rally Car 3rd. 13

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2009 WRC World Rally Car 4th. Citroën (47pts) 12
World Rally Car 1st. 12

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2008 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Citroën (191pts) 15

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2007 WRC World Rally Car 2nd. Citroën (183pts) 16

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2007 IRC Super 2000 / WRC 1.6T 5th. Citroën (4pts) 9

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2006 WRC World Rally Car 2nd. Citroën (166pts) 16

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2005 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Citroën (188pts) 16

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2004 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Citroën (194pts) 16

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2003 WRC World Rally Car 1st. Citroën (160pts) 14

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1990 WRC Group A 11th. Citroën (8pts) 13

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1986 WRC Group B 10th. Citroën (10pts) 13

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1985 WRC Group B 16th. Citroën (4pts) 12

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1984 WRC Group B 12th. Citroën (4pts) 12

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1983 WRC Open 12th. Citroën (9pts) 12

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1982 WRC Open 11th. Citroën (23pts) 12

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1977 WRC Open 15th. Citroën (13pts) 11

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1976 WRC Open 13th. Citroën (10pts) 10

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1975 WRC Open 12th. Citroën (13pts) 10

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1974 WRC Open 14th. Citroën (3pts) 8

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1973 WRC Open 7th. Citroën (33pts) 13

Season Summary | Season Points | Events Calendar