How Citroën is trying to close the Škoda gap

Asphalt WRC2 pace is proven; now the squad seeking improvements on gravel


Yohan Rossel has already proven how fast the Citroën C3 Rally2 is on asphalt. Now the Frenchman wants to match that pace on gravel. With planned developments to the car, as well as another top-line driver joining the team, the WRC2 points leader is confident that the French manufacturer can finally close the gap to its Rally2 rivals.

After Rossel’s win at Rally Monte Carlo in January, Citroën achieved a one-two at Croatia Rally, with team newcomer Nikolay Gryazin taking top honors in WRC2 ahead of Rossel.

Having a fast team-mate, Rossel believes, is one of the key factors in improving the C3: “Last year I was a bit alone,” Rossel told DirtFish. “You don’t understand when you compare to Škoda, who has six or seven fast drivers.”


Gryazin and Rossel scored Citroën one-two in Croatia

Improvements had already been made to the C3 ahead of Croatia Rally, including a new radiator, but more changes are planned for the rest of the year, specifically to its gravel-spec version.

Weight reduction is at the top of the agenda, as Rossel explains: “The weight is too high. The team worked very well this winter, but for sure we don’t have the same weight as Škoda on gravel. We know that. But we work with that and the plan is to do the maximum and the constructor is also improving the car.”

As well as reducing weight, Rossel told DirtFish that grip is the other primary challenge to tackle, particularly in muddy conditions.

“When the grip is high, the car works very well, but on muddy sections, it’s so difficult. Last year we had a lot of rallies with mud, with a lot of rain. But I work a little bit on gravel for my driving style, and on the car for the constructor. But let’s see.”

Overcoming this is not so much about making fundamental changes to the car, but about better understanding its behavior.


Rossel's best result on gravel last year was third in WRC2 at Acropolis Rally Greece

He added: “It’s not the engine but the chassis and understanding the chassis when the grip is low is the most important.”

At last weekend’s Rali Terras d’Aboboreira – effectively a warm-up for Rally Portugal – Rossel and Gryazin finished in third and fourth place and, when he spoke to DirtFish after Croatia, WRC2 points leader Rossel was confident that he could carry that speed into the gravel portion of his 2024 campaign.

“If the car is in good condition, we can fight. Last year in Greece, we were leading all the rally. When it’s completely dry, you can fight. But it’s not easy when you have a muddy section.

“It’s not easy, but I fight all the time for the championship. I go to Portugal leading the championship and the plan is to fight for the podium. For sure if I can fight for the win like 2022 in Portugal, I know that.”

There should be more opportunity to test any changes made to the car, as Rossel confirmed he will be at Rally Italy Sardinia, while he is planning to enter Acropolis Rally Greece before a return to asphalt for the Central European Rally.

Rossel will also take part in the recce for Rally Poland and Rally Finland but does not expect to register to compete in said fast gravel rounds.