The history of Total and Citroën in the WRC really starts off in 2001. As allowed by the regulations, the Double Chevron marque had planned its build-up over three seasons. After winning two victories in 2001 and 2002, the Xsara WRC allowed Citroën and Total to fight on until the very end of the 2003 season, winning the prestigious Manufacturers’ World Championship Title. Citroën and Total kept the World title in 2004 and 2005, in both seasons also winning the Drivers' World Championship Title thanks to the Loeb-Elena team. Citroën withdrew from the WRC in 2006, handing over responsibility for representing the Marque at the highest level to Kronos Racing. Loeb-Elena were World Champions for the third season in a row. The manufacturer is making its comeback in 2007 with the C4 WRC, banking that it will live up to the reputation of the Xsara.
Citroën launched the DS3 in 2011 and the team Loeb/Elena won the titel in 2011 and 2012.
2013: Citroën Total team targets the "Drivers" and "Manufacturers" World Championship titles
After winning nine crowns in a row, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have decided to prepare their conversion and will only be entering four rallies. The team is doing everything to make sure Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen are their worthy successors. They have been Vice World Champions four times in the past five years, so they are ready for that last step up.
Backed by Dani Sordo and Carlos del Barrio, the Team has three efficient, reliable crews that are capable of marking important points in each of the season's 13 rallies. “That will be the key to winning a ninth manufacturers' title,” said Yves Matton, Director of Citroën Racing.
The scheduled departure of the Loeb - Elena tandem and the arrival of Volkswagen and their Polo R mark the beginning of a new era for the WRC.
2012: a new team for a new two-title win
At the opening of the 2012 season under the leadership of its new director Yves Matton, the goals of the Citroën - Total Team are clearly displayed: to win an eighth manufacturers' title for Citroën and a ninth driver's title for Sébastien Loeb, still teamed with Daniel Elena.
The arrival of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen – triple medallist World Rally co-drivers – will be a major asset in the race for the title against the increasingly fierce competition from Ford and its two talented drivers, Jari Matti Latvala and Peter Solberg.
With 13 events on the 2012 calendar, it's going to be a long, hard season.
The Team Citroën Total WRT will focus all their drive on remaining the benchmark in the World Rally Championship.
2011: Car Change
The DS3 is now the new workhorse for the "Red Army". It takes over from the C4 and meets the new FIA specifications (1600 cc engine instead of 2000 cc).
Its potential compared with that of its opponents has yet to be proven. Loeb will also be counting this year on his new team-mate Sébastien Ogier to try to win an 8th world championship title in a row.
2010: twin title
Sébastien Loeb wins the Drivers Championship title for the 7th time in a row. He takes his title on his home ground in Alsace in the Rally France, two races before the end of the season. His track record now includes 62 wins in WRC. Citroën wins the Manufacturers' Championship for the 6th time.
2009: Records forever
With a season limited to 12 rallies, and only two on tarmac – the favourite surface for our Citroën boys – the task involved in winning the "driver's" and "manufacturer's" titles seems more complicated than in previous years. There will be a high price to pay for the slightest slip-up at the moment of truth – the finishing line.
In 2009, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will be searching to set new records, take new titles, reach new heights – and maybe even win another grand slam. Dani Sordo and Marc Marti will try to prove they belong to the élite, and to try to gain their first win in the World Rally Championship, an achievement which has eluded them for the time being. At Ford, Mikko Hirvonen will have only one objective: to beat Loeb as often as he can and make as few errors as possible, while Jarri- Matti Latvala will do his utmost to show Malcolm Wilson he can keep to the road. In short, all the ingredients required to make it an action-packed year ahead.
2008: Continue to win
With the withdrawal of Marcus Gronholm and Timo Rautiainen, some forecast a quiet season in 2008 and an easy 5th title for Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena – but that remains to be seen. While Citroën's star team are logically the favourites to be their own successors, there will be no lack of talented challengers ready to seize the slightest opportunity to take over. Mikko Hirvonen, with 3 victories under his belt in 2007, will probably be the first. His teammate at Ford, Jari-Matti Latvala, also seems ready to switch into higher gear, and if the new Subaru is competitive, there is no doubt that Petter Solberg will do so as well – not to forget Loeb's own teammate, Dani Sordo, who made major progress in the second half of the previous season. Worth noting this season; all the cars will be equipped with Pirelli tyres. Guy Fréquelin having decided to step down after such a successful career, the "reds" will be directed in 2008 by Olivier Quesnel, to whom we bid a warm welcome.
2007 : a record year
Sébastien Loeb-Daniel Elena drove the C4 WRC to victory on its first outing in the Monte-Carlo Rally, proof that the car is well born. Seven other victories confirmed that the Citroën is the worthy heir to the Xsara and at ease on all types of terrain. Sébastien had to wait for the last leg in the Championship to carry off his 4th World Champion title in a row, equalling the record held by Tommi Makinen and raising the record number of wins, which only he holds, to 36 in the current series. Citroën just lost the manufacturers' title, their second crew of Dani Sordo-Marc Marti still lacking the maturity of rival teams Gronholm-Rautiainen and Hirvonen-Lehtinen lined up by Ford.
2006 : Kronos Racing takes over
The Xsara entered by Kronos Racing enabled the Loeb-Elena team to take their third title in a row. They had 8 straight wins, and in passing beat the absolute record of victories (28) in WRC. Without the injury of Sebastien Loeb in training in September 2006, the Manufacturers' title might have been won as well. Sordo-Marti, Pons-Del Barrio and McRae-Grist (called up as reinforcements for the Turkey leg), were not enough.
2005 : confirmation in every category
Now with 16 events with the addition of Mexico and Japan, the calendar was identical in 2005. The competition looked particularly harsh with no less than six manufacturers entered full-time. Mitsubishi and Skoda announced their comeback in grand pomp. The inter-season was dotted with transfers. François Duval signed a contract with Citroën while Harri Rovanpera, formerly with Peugeot, became first driver for Mitsubishi. In France, Loeb had followers hot on his heels. Two French hopes, Stephan Sarrazin and Alexandre Bengué gained the status of official drivers in the WRC, respectively for Subaru and Skoda. After presenting the C4 WRC in the autumn of 2004, Citroën-Sport used the Xsara WRC to defend its titles in 2005.
After an extraordinary campaign with 11 victories, including 7 on the Mediterranean rim, Citroën withdrew at the end of 2005. The combination of Citroën-Loeb-Elena-Michelin-Total was all-powerful and the last event of the year was marked by the first victory at world level of the Duval-Smeets team.
2004 : Success for Citroen and Loeb
The 2004 season will go down in history for two main reasons. On the one hand, for the incredible domination of the French firm and its two drivers, Sebastien Loeb and Carlos Sainz. What's more, the championship was marked by never-ending changes in the technical and sports regulations, a dubious situation which no doubt weighed in the decision of PSA to withdraw the two makes it had entered in the WRC at the end of the 2005 season. With seven wins in all, Citroën-Sport won its second World Championship in a row in the manufacturers' category, and Sebastien Loeb took the Drivers' World title. In passing, the Frenchman equaled the world record for the greatest number of wins in a single season (6), held since 1992 by Didier Auriol. On his behalf, Carlos Sainz only hung up his gloves after taking the absolute record in terms of victories (26) .
Going for reliability
A rally car has to take punishment, and since time to make repairs is limited, 100% reliability is essential for the engine and gearbox. The products used must protect the mechanical parts throughout the three days of the competition, leaving no deposits and causing no wear. Total engineers must also take into account variations in temperature from one event to another (-10° in the Sweden rally, +30° for the one in Greece). The extremes are far more pronounced than in Formula 1. Product optimisation is therefore much more focused on preventing wear and lubricant oxidation than on pure power. In contrast with Formula 1, it is better to have a little extra performance in reserve. Even if the drivers do go all out whenever they can...
Catalunya 2003: neck and neck
As at San Remo, Sebastien Loeb was the fastest of all the World Championship's drivers. At the wheel of his Xsara WRC, he dominated the event right up to the last stage. This was contested in torrential rain, and a stunning Gilles Panizzi, in his Peugeot 206 WRC, caught and overtook all his opponents to steal victory. Loeb finished second, Sainz was seventh and both found themselves sharing the lead of the Championship! All to play for on the Rally of Great Britain...
Germany and San Remo 2003, Loeb in superb form
The Rally of Germany, contested in the area around Trier, is almost a home event for Sébastien Loeb, a native of nearby Alsace. That was all the encouragement needed for the driver, who fought right to the end of the 2003 event, winning it by seconds from reigning World Champion, Marcus Grönholm. Loeb then went on to finish a sensational second in Australia, on a rally he was driving for the first time in the Xsara. Morale couldn't have been higher for tackling the next event, the Rally of San Remo. On the fast Italian tarmac roads, his Xsara WRC was supreme, and Loeb led the event from start to finish. In the drivers' World Championship, Loeb and Sainz were now right on the heels of Peugeot's Richard Burns.
Monte Carlo 2003
In the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally, Sébastien Loeb saw his first victory in the World Championship snatched away and awarded to Tommi Mäkinen. The following year, the Frenchman from Alsace took his revenge in stunning style, winning the World Championship's most prestigious event almost unopposed. And just to rub salt into the wound, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz joined him on the podium. A Xsara WRC one-two-three that will live on in the history books!
Xsara WRC, quick on any surface
Initially christened the T4 (4-wheel Transmission), the Xsara - which won the French championship in 2000 "became" the WRC once Citroën officially entered the worldwide competition. As authroised by the regulations, the marque planned to build up its participation over three seasons. The Xsara WRC contested four events in 2001 and eight in 2002, taking its first successes at world level along the way (Corsica 2001 and Germany 2002). 2003 was to be the first full season and Guy Fréquelin lined up a trio of big names: young prodigy Sébastien Loeb, plus two former world champions, Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz. Against more experienced teams, Citroën-Total's first objective was to win a number of tarmac events, without worrying about world titles. Little was known at that time of the Xsara WRC's capabilities on dirt. The season began with a one-two-three in the Monte-Carlo Rally. After the snow of Sweden, the Championship attacked the "dirt" events. In winning the Rally of Turkey, Carlos Sainz demonstrated the effectiveness of the Xsara WRC on gravel roads...