Citroen to pull out of WTCC after 2016
Citroen will exit the World Touring Car Championship at the end of the 2016 season, and will slim down its works presence to just two cars for its final year in the series.
The French manufacturer has dominated the championship since it joined at the start of 2014, with Jose Maria Lopez picking up back-to-back titles and Citroen taking a brace of comfortable manufacturers' crowns.
But the PSA Peugeot Citroen Group's decision to enter Formula E with its DS sub-brand meant that one of Citroen's two programmes - WRC and WTCC - faced the axe, and it has been announced that the latter will be discontinued at the end of 2016.
Citroen will slim down its four-strong works line-up to just two cars next year, retaining reigning champion Lopez alongside Yvan Muller and leaving no room for Ma Qing Hua or Sebastien Loeb.
Loeb's eponymous team currently runs Mehdi Bennani as well as Ma's entry on behalf of the factory, and Ma is likely to continue to race under the Sebastien Loeb banner next year.
The nine-time WRC champion however, who is contesting the Dakar Rally with Peugeot in January, despite previously indicating he could continue in WTCC with his own team even if Citroen withdrew, will now switch his focus to rally-raid full-time in 2016, putting an end to his two-year WTCC career.
Focus on WRC in 2017
Citroen's WRC programme is set for a re-shaping as well, with the works team going on a one-year hiatus to focus on the introduction of a new car for the revamped 2017 regulations.
"We have never hidden our interest in the 2017 WRC regulations and the entire team is extremely motivated by this new challenge,” said team boss Yves Matton.
"We like the freedom granted to make the cars more spectacular, but also the possibility of re-using development work done on the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC’s engine.
"With a view to managing our resources efficiently, we have decided to focus all our efforts on designing and developing our new World Rally Car. This is why Citroen will not be competing in the 2016 World Rally Championship as a works team."
The team's 2015 duo Mads Ostberg and Kris Meeke will likely have to seek other opportunities for the coming season.
Citroen, however, will continue to be involved in WRC 2 and Junior WRC in 2016, having confirmed a programme in the former for JWRC champion Quentin Gilbert.
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