Citroën Racing say they expect to be ‘in the mix’ in the World Touring Car Championship races at the Salzburgring this weekend, with the marque expecting the high-speed nature of the circuit to play to their strengths.
Citroën have won six of the seven WTCC rounds so far this season and are expected to continue to be strong at the Salzburgring in Austria. The circuit’s high-speed nature, with two long straights and two hairpins at either end separated by sweeping corners and high-speed chicanes, is expected to play to the marque’s strengths in their engine performance and aerodynamics.
“This will be our first time at the Salzburgring, but we already know what to expect,” said Citroën Racing Technical Director Xavier Mestelan. “It’s a circuit where engine performance and aerodynamics are hugely important. Given that that is where the strengths of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC lie, we should be in the mix, despite the regulation 60kg of ballast we’ll have to carry.”
As in previous seasons, the Saturday qualifying session at the Salzburgring is expected to be pivotal in setting up two strong races on Sunday. The circuit played host to probably the most controversial qualifying session in the sport’s history in 2013, when numerous drivers drove around the circuit slowly, each hoping to pick up a slipstream off another car.
“Apart from the intrinsic qualities of the vehicle, the key to a fast lap is slipstreaming, so qualifying promises to be more intense than ever,” added Mestelan. “The way the drivers handle Q2, when the cars are all out on the track together, will be crucial if they are to win one of the five spots in Q3. In Q3, with each participant alone on the track, only the driver can make a difference.”
Citroën Racing’s Team Principal Yves Matton says that even at this early stage of the season he is pleased to see all three of his driver’s delivering equally – with each of the team’s three drivers having won on two occasions each and being separated by just 29 points in the driver’s championship.
“We can be proud that our drivers are all performing at the same level,” admitted Matton. “They are all competing on equal terms, and are free to take each other on – in a sporting fashion, of course. We have already seen cars bump into each other in previous rounds, but that’s just part and parcel of the competition.
“Even though Pechito has led the World Championship since the first round, he doesn’t have a decisive advantage. The situation could change very quickly. All three drivers know that they need to get the best possible results over the next few meetings to win valuable points off their rivals. We should see some more enthralling battles in Austria.”