Citroën Racing has announced that it has signed three-time FIA World Touring Car Championship winner Yvan Muller to its driving roster as the French carmaker gets ready to make its series debut next year.
The series’ most successful driver will partner nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb for the next two seasons, with the pair piloting the team’s all-new C-Elysée racing cars.
Having tested the new car with the outfit in the week leading up to last weekend’s championship round in Argentina, the Frenchman – who is an unbackable favourite to claim a fourth WTCC title this year – was announced as Loeb’s new teammate.
“Throughout its history, be it in cross-country rallies or WRC, Citroën Racing has always sought to recruit the best drivers,” Citroën Racing team principal Yves Matton said.
“We have set ambitious goals for our new challenge in WTCC, and the arrival of a driver as experienced as Yvan will help us to make rapid progress. He has shown this season that he is at the peak of his powers and that his thirst for wins has never been greater. He will also be an excellent point of reference for Sébastien Loeb. The two men are from the same region and have known each other for a long time. Their mutual respect will create a natural cohesion within the team.”
Check out the teaser video of Yvan Muller testing the all-new C-Elysée!
Citroën will be the third different carmaker with whom Muller has raced since he debuted in the WTCC in 2006 as a SEAT works driver, before moving across to RML Chevrolet in 2010.
“It will be a real honour to represent Citroën Racing from 2014,” Muller added.
“It’s fantastic that a brand with such a terrific record is getting involved in a category where it still has everything to learn. This isn’t the first time I have joined a team that doesn’t have a lot of experience in the discipline it is racing in. It’s nice to be able to go beyond my role as a driver by offering the benefit of my knowledge and making an active contribution to building a successful team.”
For Muller, the announcement marks the end of a hugely successful four-year campaign with the RML outfit, which has seen him claim two Drivers’ Championship crowns and 26 race wins to-date.
But with the team looking likely to remain as an independent outfit next season – until a rumoured tie-up with Renault is formally inked – Muller opted to switch to a manufacturer-backed team, a decision that neither party admits was easy.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me to make,” Muller added.
“RML has allowed me to win many races and conquer two World Championship titles. We’ve worked incredibly hard together for the past four seasons and these have been years of great personal satisfaction for me.
“RML is a truly professional team and one that I shall not forget. I would like to thank everybody in the factory for giving me your confidence and I hope that our successes together over the years have put RML firmly on the sporting map.
“Naturally everybody at RML will be sorry to see Yvan go at the end of this year – he has been a key supporter and a perfect ambassador for RML over the very enjoyable years that we have worked with him,” RML CEO Ray Mallock echoed.
“However, we appreciate this will not have been an easy decision for him to make and we fully support Yvan in his move and wish him the best of luck for the future.”