CITROËN RACING BOSS PIERRE BUDAR ENDED SPECULATION ABOUT THE FRENCH MANUFACTURER’S WRC FUTURE BY CONFIRMING ITS PARTICIPATION FOR THE NEXT TWO SEASONS.
Speaking in Alghero ahead of this weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna, Budar said Citroën would ‘100 per cent’ compete in WRC in 2019 and 2020.
“Citroën WRC next year is confirmed,” he said. Asked about the following season, Budar replied: “Normally it is confirmed, 100 per cent confirmed.”
Speculation about Citroën’s future has swirled around the service park at recent rounds, heightened by the dismissal of Kris Meeke following his massive accident at last month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal.
Budar also spoke about how hard it was to axe Meeke.
“I really enjoyed my relationship with Kris and Paul (co-driver Nagle). They are very nice guys and I had a very nice time with them so it’s quite difficult, but we have to know how to separate your personal feelings and your professional duties,” he said.
Budar said a decision on who would replace the Briton for the second half of the season would be made within the next couple of weeks, ahead of the entry deadline for Neste Rally Finland (26 – 29 July).
He ruled out nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb as a long-term replacement, spoke positively about Sébastien Ogier returning to the Versailles-based squad but indicated he was also examining other options.
“You should talk with Loeb but I think his time in a complete championship is over. We cannot go for a complete championship with Seb. It’s not OK for us to go for a few rallies only with him to replace one driver.
“Everybody in the service park wants Seb Ogier and we would be very pleased to see him again at Citroën, of course. He started with us his career in rallying.
“He’s French, in a French team and it would be a nice story also, but it’s not our only consideration to take him,” explained Budar.