Citroen WRC team’s morale problem bigger than C3 WRC flaws

Citroen technical director Christophe Besse says an all-time confidence low is a bigger problem for its World Rally Championship programme than any technical issues on the C3 WRC.

The firm amassed 17 WRC titles in a decade, but has struggled to find form in its return this season.

Kris Meeke’s Mexico success in March is Citroen’s only win of the year and Besse said that is beginning to tell on the team.

“We have to give back confidence to everybody in the team, not just the drivers, but everybody,” Besse told Autosport.

“The team is not used to being at that [low] level. It’s difficult for everybody.

“The problem is to try to make everybody work together, because we have a lot of very able people in the team – it’s not by mistakes that the team has won 17 world rally titles.

“These people in the team are not used to being wrong at the start of the season.

“I think if we manage to turn this [confidence] around then we can make quite a good result before the end of the year – the car’s not as bad as the season has showed.”

Besse admitted he is in a race against time to get the C3 on the pace for 2018.

“Discussing with the drivers, we don’t have a big problem – it’s not like something is hidden in the car and when you find it, everything is clear,” he said.

“It’s more a lot of things we have to improve, but this is the same in other teams. Maybe it’s a bit more in our team.

“The only thing – and it’s part of my job – is to understand which order we need to do things.

“We need to make the priorities with the car. What are those priorities? I don’t know.

“The main problem is the inconsistency in the car.

“I’m sure this is not such a big technical problem, but it’s causing the drivers to lose confidence – which makes it worse and worse.

“We are working a lot on the geometry and suspension. But we still have a lot of work to do.

“I hope we have passed halfway, but maybe not so far. It’s a work in progress.”

Besse must decide where to use Citroen’s two remaining homologation jokers – a facility that allows significant change on the chassis without taking the car through a complete homologation process.

“We have two left for this year for the chassis and then five next year – but we can’t use all five early in the year, we have to save some for later,” Besse explained.

“We have to find the priority for these jokers and because this is homologation, you need to be certain about what you are doing.

“If we miss the March 1 date, then there are a lot of gravel rallies coming after that, so we have to be ready.”

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