The Citroen C-Elysee WTCC sporting new colours

thumb– The majority of the teams that will compete in the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship were on hand at the Vallelunga circuit (Italy) for two days of collective tests.

– José María López and Yvan Muller shared the driving duties in a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC sporting the new colours of the Citroën Total team.

– The two-time defending World Championship winning car confirmed its status as the machine to beat with six best times from the seven sessions.

MEDIA RELEASE: To a trained eye, the aerodynamic evolutions brought to the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC over the winter are notable.

Yet, it is the livery of the double World Champion that draws attention! After two seasons in white and grey, the bodywork of the Citroën Total team cars is now primarily matte and glossy red.

Coming straight from the Geneva International Motor Show, José María López and Yvan Muller were thrilled to get back in the car for two days of testing at the Vallelunga circuit, near Rome.

Wednesday, the first session began under sunny skies. Late in the morning, José María López set the benchmark time.

Then Yvan Muller took over to lead the set-up work. The best time of the day was posted by Mehdi Bennani, who begins his second season in a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC entered by Sébastien Loeb Racing.

Thursday was split into five 40-minute sessions. Yvan Muller was quickest in the two morning sessions, both on a dry surface and wet track.

The weather changed several times, with rain showers, hail and melting snow! Back behind the wheel after the mid-day pause, José María López led the way in the two final sessions. The native of Argentina set the best time of all five sessions.

The FIA WTCC World Championship will begin in France, at Circuit Paul Ricard from April 1-3.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Yves Matton, Citroën Racing: “One month before the start of the 2016 season, this group test session with our main rivals allowed for confirming the performance level of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC.

Our objectives are as simple to sum up as they are as hard to achieve: we want to retain the Manufacturers and Drivers titles won in 2014 and 2015.

Still driven by passion, enthusiasm and humility, the team is united around this ambition, beginning with our two drivers.

Between them, Pechito and Yvan have won six of the last eight FIA WTCC titles. They are the best duo to take on the challenge of a third consecutive crown. Yvan and Pechito have the same hunger to win and they will set off –like the previous seasons – on equal terms.”

José María López: “It looks like it will be an interesting season, with new cars and quite a few changes among the drivers. The rule changes will also modify the approach to a race weekend.

“I think that the ‘team spirit’ will be more important than ever before. And for that, Citroën Racing is the best team that I’ve ever been with. Yvan and I have worked closely together for two years and we have forged a relationship built on mutual respect and the goal to take Citroën to the top.

“We looked to make progress this winter, but now it is hard to improve a car as successful as the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. Each change takes more time than before, because the engineers must analyse everything to verify that an evolution will be truly beneficial.

“It will be even more complicated for us, especially with the 80kg of ballast that we will carry at the start of the championship. Everyone seems to expect us to continue to win, but I think the competition will be stiffer. We will give our best effort to win both titles while having fun. ”

Yvan Muller: “There is always a certain amount of excitement coming into a new season. After these months off, I am anxious to return to action, to see if we have done a good job this winter and where we are compared to the competition.

“Like each year, the WTCC brings its share of innovations. Obviously, there is the arrival of a new manufacturer, but also a new rules package that will change tactics. Even though the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC begins its third season, we still wanted to evolve the car despite a lower progression of margin.

“My ambitions are still the same, since I have raced in this championship, I have systematically finished on the season ending podium. It will be the same year, if possible taking a fifth world championship. To do this, everything will have to fall into place, especially success. That is also part of a driver’s work.”