If initial impressions are anything to go by then Citroen’s new 2017 WRC car must be pretty good, good because Kris Meeke’s face was apparently wreathed in smiles when he stepped from the car after his first test. The car was wearing a disruptive camouflage livery, but we know new cars are more powerful, with around 380bhp, and the scope for aerodynamic influence is also much greater. Crucially they also get a centre diff.
Meeke has developed several cars during his career and was impressed with how much driving he was able to get done on this first outing in the 2017 car. He knows that there is a long road ahead, but with Citroen’s focus now switching back from the WTCC to the WRC it bodes very well for the French team. The reason for this is that the touring car programme has given them a greater understanding of aerodynamics and they have also spent the last couple of years running a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with similar outputs and durability requirements those required by the new WRC car.
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Some have said that the 2017 cars will be like a return to the glorious Group B era but to be honest that seems a little unlikely. The cars should certainly be more exciting to look at and will undoubtedly be faster, but diff, suspension and tyre technology have all moved on so much that a return to the sort of cars where the engine totally outclassed the chassis is just not going to happen. Thankfully the cars are also going to be much safer in terms of crash protection than anything in the Group B era, with Citroen working diligently on side-impact protection in particular.
It’s an all-Irish driver line-up developing this car at the moment, with Craig Breen helping Meeke bring the car up to speed. Breen is fresh from a win on the Circuit of Ireland rally and you can watch his amazing run through the Glens stage here.