Can Citroen actually afford to sign Ogier?

Published on Wednesday October 04 2017

Citroen is making a lot of noise about chasing Ogier, but is there something we’re not being told? Pic: LAT

The messages coming out of Citroen right now couldn’t be more mixed. On one hand we’re told les rouges are looking at a multi-million-pound signing of superstar Frenchman Sebastien Ogier. But in the next breath the good folk of Versailles confirm a Wales Rally GB test in the French-Welsh enclave of Mazamet. Before you check, this is not near Machynlleth. It’s not near Wales. It’s south-west France…

Citroen’s team principal Yves Matton makes a good point about the test location and his decision not to come to Wales early for some wholly representative running. Don’t forget, all the work now is aimed at next season, the emphasis is on development rather than specific set-up running. But the other reason is rather more mundane.

“It’s very expensive to test in GB,” he told me. That’s what I’ve heard: hiring forests off Natural Resources Wales doesn’t come cheap.

But neither do four (or possibly five)-time world champions.

And that’s kind of the point. How are we expected to take this Ogier talk seriously if Citroen can’t afford to test in Wales?

And what sort of word does this send out to Sebastien himself?

Ogier is Citroen’s only target for 2018

Ogier’s current employer M-Sport – you know, the series’ genuine privateer team – owns its own forest in Cumbria (that’s closer than Mazamet) and yet Malcolm Wilson is still digging deep enough into his own pocket to fund a pre-event test in the right woods, in the right country.

Ogier is on the market for next year, but won’t come cheap. Pic: LAT

Looking on the bright side, one can only imagine that signing Ogier will open the team up to more funding. It will have to. I can’t imagine Gap’s finest returning to Citroen only to be faced with slashed budgets and testing in France for a rally in Wales.

No, if Ogier’s back then I reckon that will send a real signal to the rest of the service park. And that signal will be a very straightforward one, stating that Citroen really is back.

It’s reasonably well known that PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares is calling the shots on this one and it’s his wallet that’s financing the gig. If Tavares wants this thing done properly, it’ll be done properly. And I can’t see Ogier signing up for it in any other fashion.

So that’s great for the Parisians, if Ogier comes to the table.

But what if he doesn’t? What does that then say about Citroen?

Most likely it says that the team will remain mired in a horribly cash-strapped situation with little potential for filing down the rough edges which remain on the C3 WRC. If that’s the case, it’s hard to see Citroen returning to the glory years of 17 titles in 10 years.

M-Sport has the longevity on its side, but not the factory backing. Pic: LAT

Either way, it would appear there’s a whole lot more riding on this deal than just the potential for an ex-employee walking back through the front door in Versailles in the next few weeks.

It appears, it’ll come down to a question of cash or the right car from the start of next season. It would seem unlikely that the C3’s going to be absolutely on the money in the way M-Sport’s Fiesta WRC is from Monte next year. Ogier might counter this with the longer-term prospects of a manufacturer deal. But I can’t think of another outfit showing the kind of longevity M-Sport’s managed since 1997.

Recent news

Column

Who I have my money on for the BTCC title

By Matt James

Rallying News

FIA blocks ‘radical’ final stage plan for Rally GB

Tuesday’s Wales Rally GB launch has been cancelled after the FIA refused to sign off on this...

Rallying News

Ostberg rejoins Citroen for Rally Portugal

Mads Ostberg will rejoin Citroen's World Rally Championship line-up for at least two more events,...

Promoted feature

Swaffham Raceway: Family friendly fun

East Anglia has always been a hotbed for short oval racing and one of the resurgent venues in...

Racing News

Introducing Lewis Kent: Making the steps towards the BTCC

[DRIVER PROMOTION] “We’re aiming to go out there, do well in the championship and make...

Rallying News

Safari Rally won't feature in 2019 WRC

FIA president Jean Todt has revealed that the Safari Rally will not be on the World Rally Championship...

Rallying News

Ogier seals Corsica victory

Sebastien Ogier sealed victory in the World Rally Championship's Tour de Corse with a comfortable...

Column

Silverstone's rallycross adventure

By Matt James

Racing News

Ingram wins Brands finale, takes points lead

Tom Ingram won the final British Touring Car Championship race at Brands Hatch to move into...

Racing News

Proctor scores first win after slicks gamble

Senna Proctor took Vauxhall's first victory in the British Touring Car Championship since 2012...

Racing News

Goff beats Turkington to win season opener

Jack Goff won the opening round of the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch after...

Goff snatches Brands BTCC pole

Jack Goff scored his third pole position in as many British Touring Car Championship race meetings...

Racing News

Introducing Patrick Kibble: Moving from karts to cars

[DRIVER PROMOTION] Being tall in motorsport brings with it a number of challenges. And one...

Rallying News

West on verge of MN Rally crown

Peugeot 306 Maxi driver Chris West can seal the Motorsport News Circuit Rally Championship this...

Rallying News

Loeb among Corsica favourites reckon rivals

Despite not competing on Corsica for a decade, Sebastien Loeb's World Rally Championship rivals...

Racing News

MSA chief executive steps down from role

Rob Jones, the chief executive of UK motorsport's governing body, has stepped down after 12...

Rallying News

Quarter-finals set for DiRT world championship

The 36 quarter-finalists for the inaugural DiRT eSports World Championships have been chosen...

Racing News

Monger never thought comeback podium possible

Billy Monger says he never imagined a top-three finish on his BRDC British F3 debut was possible...

Rallying News

FIA ratifies powerstage rule change

A regulation change to stop World Rally Championship crews taking a tactical approach to powerstages...

Rallying News

Loeb's team pleased with all-new Peugeot's debut

Sebastien Loeb's team ran its brand-new Peugeot 208 Supercar for the first time at the Silverstone...

Rallying News

Rallycross stalwart Doran to race at Lydden Hill

Multiple European Rallycross event-winner Liam Doran will return to rallycross Supercar action...

Rallying News

Ekstrom and Audi on top in Silverstone RX testing

Mattias Ekstrom's EKS Audi Sport team was fastest in both wet and dry conditions at the second...

1 2 3 50

More national news, in-depth race reports and analysis. Subscribe to the Motorsport News paper today.

What’s On

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

This weekend

No Events

Later

No Events

X