Hirvonen to lead Citroen 2013 & Abu Dhabi Sponsor

Citroen Racing team principal Yves Matton says Mikko Hirvonen’s talent will vindicate his decision to entrust the Finn to head the make’s assault on next year’s FIA World Rally Championship.

Photo:D.Darrall

Hirvonen, from Finland, joined Citroen for the 2012 season as number two to Sebastien Loeb following a lengthy stint at rival squad Ford. However, with Loeb tackling a partial campaign next year, Hirvonen has been handed the job of team leader alongside co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.

“Mikko and Jarmo have now been totally incorporated into the team,” said Matton. “They have shown they have the level of performance and experience needed to take this final step and become the natural leaders of our outfit.”

Hirvonen is currently second in the WRC drivers’ standings. Although he has struggled for ultimate pace on the last two rounds, he came close to winning Rally Sweden and finished first on Vodafone Rally de Portugal only to be excluded following post-event technical checks.

The identity of Hirvonen’s team-mate will be announced in due course although Khalid Al-Qassimi will pilot a third DS3 WRC as part of Abu Dhabi’s sponsorship of the factory Citroen outfit, which can claim an eighth manufacturers’ title on Rally de France Alsace next week.

Photo:D.Darrall

Citroën Team principal Yves Matton is welcoming Abu Dahbi’s new link with the
Citroën team, and has confirmed a third car for Khalid Al-Qassimi.

The
team was under enormous pressure to find new sources of support, as Citroën’s
parent PSA grapples with the problems caused by the loss of sales in Europe.
Matton says it’s welcome news: “In this context, we are particularly
proud to welcome Abu Dhabi on board. This partnership will provide us with the
means of continuing our programme and entering three DS3 WRCs in
2013.”

Citroën isn’t saying how many rallies Seebastien Loeb and Daniel
Elena will undertake next year, nor who will take the drives when Loeb is not
available,.

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