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GP Week : Issue 38
DG DOUBLE er Quesnel, the head of Citroen/ LMES OUBLE A >>WRCINSIGHT LITTLE over a year ago 59 year-old Olivier Quesnel started his work as director of Citroen Sport. A year later the company gave him a second title – the same position at Peugeot Sport! “What a year 2008 was,”he reflects “I have to look across my room to see the trophies before I can believe it has all been true! At the end of 2009 I will tell you if the job continues to be appealing!” 2008 was also a strange year, one more year of sporting confrontation in the WRC between only Citroen and Ford, one for Olivier of discovery about the way the sport is run. Did he assume that more championships would still come to Citroen after his predecessor Guy Frequelin retired? “I felt sure that Sebastien would gain his fifth successive year as champion, but I was not sure at all about the chances for the Manufacturers’ title. “After Finland we began to realise that we might regain the makes title, and then on each following rally our hopes got stronger but we never made assumptions until the end of the season came.” Now the team is engaged in yet another season, again with Ford as its main rivals. “Everything for us is the same in 2009, nothing has changed with the same drivers and for the moment the same cars that we were using last year, but maybe with some technical changes at the end of March. I arrived with a team that was prepared in an exceptional good way by Guy. It means we have a good basis for the future. Rallying is the roots of Citroen.” Citroen’s motorsport philosophy comes from a variety of corporate policies. “It is a combination of marketing image and general car development. We are planning to stay in rallying for quite a long time, rallying is the best opportunity for Citroen promotion. We plan to carry on rallying the C4 WRC through 2009 and 2010 but we do not know yet when we will start to rally the new car.” Citroen is still being cagey about the design of the new car, but it is widely speculated that it will be based on the C3. Citroen and Peugeot now seem to be closer together in sporting activities than ever before. How will Citroen Sport develop alongside Peugeot Sport? “Certainly I believe that we do not want more than one company engaged at the top level of the sport at the same time. We will not have Citroen and Peugeot officially competing directly against each other, but of course each can supply customers directly.” Citroen has a strong customer base. The C2 has been around for a while, so is this scheduled to be replaced? “We will continue to run cars so long as that model is being marketed but we will not continue to support the C2 in the Junior World Rally Championship officially. We will be developing the national championship activities instead, under our new Customer Manager Simon Jean-Joseph, who is making plans for ways to convince drivers to be active in our cars especially in France.” 43