Following a very successful maiden season that was worth the Manufacturers’ Championship and the Drivers’ Championship, Citroën announced it will expand its presence to five cars in 2015.
The Citroën Total team will retain the same three drivers who filled the championship podium this year: José María López, Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb.
“We were completely satisfied with our drivers, and they didn’t have any thoughts of going elsewhere, so it was easy to sort out,” explained team principal Yves Matton
Two further C-Elysée cars will be run on a private basis by the Sébastien Loeb Racing Team.
“Since it was created, SLR has amassed real know-how at international circuits, in both GT and sports prototype racing. The FIA WTCC marks a new stage in the team’s development,” said Loeb.
“Entrusting the two private cars to SLR was an obvious choice,” added Matton. “These will be good-as-new reconditioned 2014 chassis, complete with all the developments we introduce next season.”
Ma Qing Hua, who drove in five of the 2014 events a fourth factory Citroën, claiming one race victory at Moscow Raceway, is expected to be one of the SLR drivers.
The podium finish in Race 2 at Macau has meant the best closing possible for Hugo Valente.
The young Frenchman has had a season full and ups and downs at the wheel of the Campos Racing Chevrolet Cruze, but was obviously happy to finish on a high note: “It was good to be on the podium for the last race,” commented the Parisian youngster. “We had a promising start of the season, with podiums at Marrakech and Budapest, but after that, we have been struggling a bit. There were quite a few racing incidents and mistakes, but I guess this is part of the game and it was only my second season in the WTCC. It’s good to finish with some good performances in the Asian races and a final podium, it will make easier to work for a 2015 program.”
No doubt though that at 22, the fast and personable Frenchman has become this year one of the established young guns in the FIA WTCC.
Fourth in the final standings, Norbert Michelisz can claim the unofficial title of ‘best of the rest’, having been the most successful driver behind the dominating Citroën trio.
At the wheel of the Honda Civic of Zengö Motorsport, the Hungarian driver has been consistently in the top five in the final stretch of the season, even though he couldn’t clinch a race win, finishing first of the Honda cars in the standings.
The fourth spot was his best result in his five full WTCC seasons raced so far. “I only could dream of such a result at the beginning of the season and even ahead of the final event at Macau,” admitted ‘Norbi’. “And eventually it came true. It was a nice reward at the end of a season which has not been easy at all, as we spent catching up and trying to reduce the initial gap. We have worked well and very closely with the other Honda teams and the progress shown in the last races is promising for the next season.”