The new Citroen DS3 R3 rally car which was introduced only a few weeks ago will make its competition debut this week at Ulster Rally in Ireland. This affordable rally racer has undergone a bespoke test programme recently and it’s ready to take on upcoming challenges, but before it goes on sale to normal customers it has to prove itself at Ulster, with Bryan Bouffier and Xavier Panseri in charge. It’s the first time the R3 faces real rivals.
Jean-François Liénéré, in charge of customer competition at Citroën Racing, commented: “While we have been very pleased with our progress in testing, nothing replicates real competition. The Ulster Rally is a very tricky event where competitors have to deal with narrow roads that offer little grip. The variable weather conditions in Ireland are capable of springing both nice and nasty surprises so these are sure to be a determining factor in the outcome of the rally. The ideal result for us in Antrim would be to win Group R and finish in the top five overall. From a sporting point of view, Ireland and Great Britain are very important customer competition markets for our company. Citroën has a strong presence thanks to the Citroën Racing Trophy, which boasts a high profile and several top quality drivers. These people are very interested in the new DS3 R3 and I believe that our latest challenger will live up to all their expectations.”
In a baptism of fire, Citroën’s latest two-wheel drive machine, equipped with a 210-horsepower engine, will rack up its first competitive miles on extremely specialised terrain. Irish asphalt is notorious for its lack of grip and bumpy surfaces, which the new car will face over the 205 stage kilometres of the rally. The famously changeable weather in Ulster could also play a key role over the course of the event. Whatever happens, French driver Bryan Bouffier – who was an important part of the new car’s development programme – will be doing his best to take the DS3 R3 towards the top of the leaderboard, although he will face considerably more powerful local opposition.