Having confirmed that it will enter a works-supported team in next year’s FIA World Touring Car Championship, the Citroën Racing team now has to weigh up who it will tempt to join its racing line-up alongside nine-time World Rally Championship winner Sébastien Loeb.
Team Principal Yves Matton is targeting drivers with experience, and has set his sights on the WTCC’s most successful drivers, Yvan Muller, Rob Huff and Alain Menu, who have over race victories and four World Championship crowns between them.
Matton also admitted that he is hoping to tempt recovering F1 driver and occasional rally racer Robert Kubica for a limited run of races, but that his ultimate focus remained on recruiting one or more drivers with championship-winning experience to front its operation.
Matton met with both Muller and Huff during last weekend’s round at Porto, while Menu has already tested with the team.
Muller, Huff and Menu were teammates in Chevrolet’s hugely successful WTCC campaign, with Huff narrowly triumphing in last year’s title race over his RML teammates.
“The drivers on the [championship] podium last year are in the best position, but for the moment there is no ideal choice; they all have different advantages,” Matton said over the weekend.
“I am not in a hurry to decide. Maybe we will test with the drivers before deciding.
“I want to take the best driver, but that is not only [measured] by performance; it’s the ability to fit into the team, to work with Sébastien and help Citroën win the title.
“I hope to announce it by the end of the summer.”
So far, Muller is the only driver to have spoken publically about a possible Citroën deal. The 43-year-old – who is at unbackable odds to claim a fourth WTCC crown – admitted that he is exploring several options for 2014, including Citroën, as well as other manufacturer options in the championship, or racing further afield in RallyCross or GT racing.
“Like everyone I’m talking with Citroën, but I’ve talked with Citroën for two years,” the Frenchman said.
Having only had his 2013 drive with RML confirmed a matter of weeks before the 2013 season began and with the WTCC set to introduce drastically different technical regulations that would make his Chevrolet Cruze uncompetitive in its current configuration, Muller admitted that his eye was on securing a manufacturer-backed drive next year.
“For next year I want a works drive that’s for sure, but a works drive needs to be decided soon as then there will be not enough time to design and build the car,” he added.
“There is Honda as well, and there is another constructor [widely believed to be Renault] as well still on the list… or another championship; I’m thinking GT or Rallycross, with my experience of ice racing and touring cars it could be something fun.
“[Although] if it’s a late deal and my season is like this year I’d be pleased,” he laughed.