The last 24 hours have been full of confusion and questions in regards to exactly what it is Citroen will be doing in the WRC. Heading into yesterday, we already knew that Loeb and Ogier would house the two factory rides. The former Citroen Junior squad was half full. Peter Van Merksteijn had been confirmed for 10 rounds of the championship which was due to start in Sweden for him. Enter Kimi Raikkonen and Petter Solberg. Both were rumored to land a Citroen ride as well but only four cars meant someone would be on the outside looking in. Here is what we know at the moment.
Where has Raikkonen not been rumored!?!? MINI, Monster World Rally, and of course Citroen were all possible destinations for the 2007 Formula 1 champion. He has officially returned to Citroen for his second year under the banner of Ice 1 Racing World Rally. This is a team that Raikkonen has setup to replace the “junior” team name. Raikkonen will be participating in Sweden as his entry was accepted right before the deadline. So the great mystery that is Kimi Raikkonen 2011 has been solved for the time being. Thank god!
Petter Solberg is the man out of the list who deserves this ride based on performance alone. The 2003 WRC champion put on one awesome show during the 2010 campaign. He was able to take a dated version of the C4 and match Sebastien Loeb stage for stage. Rumor began to swirl that perhaps Petter was off to the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) if no ride was available. We are not sure exactly what the details are on his financial backing, but Petter Solberg World Rally Team will be at Sweden and in a DS3. We are also awaiting details to see how many more rounds Petter will compete in after. Most of the stories have said he will be in Sweden but fail to mention the rest of the plans.
The first driver announced to be in a DS3 that was not Loeb or Ogier is the real question here. After contacting the team, I was told that Citroen and Van Merksteijn did have a good conversation and the team will not be competing in Sweden as first thought. They have however been given the green light to travel for the round in Argentina. That rally was not previously on the schedule for Van Merksteijn Motorsport.
So the offseason drama is over for the time being. I remeber saying a couple weeks back that when it hits, it would be fast and furious. The way the news came out yesterday…it was exactly that. Keep it here for further details as they present themselves. Roll on 2011!