The Xsara World Rally Car, based on the road-going Xsara hatchback but ultimately having very little resemblance to it under the skin, was a major competitor in the World Rally Championship and one of the most successful cars in WRC history. The car took Frenchman Sébastien Loeb to 28 rally wins, three consecutive Driver’s Championship titles from 2004 to 2006, and Citroën to three consecutive Manufacturer’s Championship titles in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Although it is the Frenchman who has proved the archetype Xsara WRC pilot virtually since its 2001 conception, Jesus Puras, Carlos Sainz and Francois Duval are among the other drivers to have won.
World Rally Champions, Citroen, showed its latest look for the triumphant Xsara WRC car ready for the start of this year’s 16 event world rally championship at Monte Carlo this week (22nd to 25th January).
The Xsara has an enviable record on the Monte Carlo Rally having taken all three podium places last year, its first full season, and second place the year before when it competed as part of the car’s development programme.
Last year’s winner, 29 year old French, Sebastien Loeb will this year drive car number 3 whilst team mate Carlos Sainz, takes car number 4. Both Citroen drivers are unique in that they are the only two drivers in the entire field who have won the Monte Carlo Rally on previous occasions.
Yet despite this pedigree and starting as rally favorite, Loeb mixes caution with confidence, “Like everyone, I want to do well but starting favorite is an added pressure, but one I have had experience of. The five asphalt rallies we did in 2003 did not all end well, but I won three of them and momentarily led the other two. That’s good for confidence.”
During 2003 the Citroen Xsara WRC won the manufacturer’s title amassing 160 points with 13 podium finishes including seconds in Australia and Rally Wales GB and four outright rally wins (Monte Carlo, Turkey, Germany and San Remo).