Citroen confirmed this week that they will enter the 2014 World Touring Car Championship with Sebastian Loeb confirmed as one of their drivers.
This is great news to the series as it looks to take its next step to provide a better show and improve the racing spectale with a new set of regulations that include an increase of engine power from the current 1.6 litre petrol turbo engines and increased aerodynamics on the cars.
With Citroen confirming their decision, this makes the current works manufacturer count to 3 with Honda and Lada already committed to the new regulations. It could be 4 if SEAT decide to re-enter as a works team, however it is expected that they will build a new car and provide customer support to teams running the car.
What I also expect soon is confirmations of what these new regulations will be and when they will take effect. There are two options:
1. Let the current S2000 cars run for 2014 alongside any new 2014 regulation S2000 cars and then give teams and manufacturers the chance to build and buy the newer cars so that a full field of 2014 S2000 cars can race in 2015.
2. Outlaw all current S2000 cars and allow only 2014 cars to run in the series, whilst relegating the current crop of cars to race in the supporting European Touring Car Cup.
WTCC Series boss Marcello Lotti has made it clear he would prefer the latter, however the teams have made it clear they would prefer the former. Either way we will know the outcome soon as an announcement is expected to be made in the coming weeks.
With Loeb and Citroen entering the fray this will further increase interest from France, who already have Triple WTCC Champion Yvan Muller stamping his authority on the series. It will also bring all those loyal Loeb fans who have followed him into the circuit racing arena en masse. It will also raise the profile of the WTCC further as an FIA World Championship showing growth and renewed interest.
What I am expecting is the return of a French round to the WTCC. In the past this has been either at Magny-Cours or on the street circuit at Pau. However with a French Manufacturer entering a works team and arguably France's two top motorsport drivers in the same FIA World Championship, this seems a no brainer...
Its also following the same thinking that as Lada returned this year, the WTCC made it first visit to a Russian Circuit...
So, many poistive and good things are coming from this announcement...including the fact that Loeb will have a team mate in the two-car team.
Start the rumour mill going because everyone will be guessing until they confirm who it will be and what car they will both be driving by the time the season starts at Monza next year.
For me, using my common sense thinking on this one, I'll put my £5 on the table and state I think it will be Alain Menu.
Menu is a seasoned Touring Car driver. He started out in the BTCC in 1992 and won the title twice in 1997 and 2000. He tested both the Renault Laguna and Ford Mondeo, cars he in which he won both titles. He was also part of the team testing both the RML built Chevrolet Lacetti and Chevrolet Cruze for the WTCC. He tested the mockup prototype built by Citroen along with Loeb whilst Citroen debated entering the series.
He would also bring a lot of experience to the table that both Loeb and Citroen could use in developing their car. I also think that Reb Bull will carry on sponsoring Loeb so I wouldn't be surprised to see a pair of Red Bull sponsored Citroen's on the grid next year.
So to me, its a no brainer. But I want to make it clear, nothing has been confirmed and this is my own opiniom only.
Now I can already hear the shouts for a Muller/Loeb team-up and for me I think that its a team up that ranks in a similar vein with Senna/Prost at Mclaren, Vettel/Webber at Red Bull. Two strong drivers in the same team can be good but it can also be bad as well and risks causing more harm than good... Something that Citroen will want to avoid to begin with.
Anyway, its great news from a fans point of view and thats why it's put a smile on my face.
Enjoy your weekend!