A Works Citroën Sport entrant in the 1992 and 1993 Paris-Dakar Rallies
Raced solely by Ari Vatanen, Timo Salonen and Björn Waldegård – three Scandinavians who have each won the World Rally Championship
Played an integral role in Citroën Sport’s victory in the inaugural FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying in 1993
Subsequently served as a testbed for Citroën’s next-generation Type XU-15 2.5-litre engine, producing 100HP more than the previous iterations
An unrestored and thus highly original example, having been retained by the Citroën Heritage arm in its famous Conservatoire until 2012
Just two private owners from new
European taxes paid
We always get swept up in the excitement of the Dakar Rally. The jaw-dropping vistas, brutally challenging terrain and the will-he won’t-he anticipation as the nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb chased his first Dakar victory. Alas, it wasn’t to be for the decorated Frenchman, but something tells us that won’t stop him returning to Saudi Arabia again.
Today, the most famous rally-raid event of them all is a very different and altogether more sanitised affair to what it once was, however. For starters, it’s no longer held on the continent in which it was created and after which it’s named. For many (us included) the heyday of the sport was the 1990s, when rally-raid diehards such as René Metge, Cyril Neveu and Alain Ambrosino and were joined on their epic adventures by the esteemed likes of Ari Vatanen, Jacky Ickx and Jean-Louis Schlesser. Mitsubishi, Peugeot and Land Rover were staples, but it’s the yellow Camel-sponsored and red Total-sponsored Citroën ZX Rallye-Raids which captured the most hearts.
“These French behemoths won a staggering 36 of the 42 races they entered and won the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying five times on the bounce between 1993 and 1997.”
From a technological perspective, the ZX Rallye-Raid traces its roots back to the Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 from the defunct Group B rally category. That the mechanical blueprint for the Peugeot proved to be the basis of an incredibly effective rally-raid truck should have come as no surprise. The 205 Turbo 16 was the only Group B car to win the World Rally Championship twice, which, when you consider the ferocity of the formula and the sheer strength of the opposition, is one hell of an achievement. Naturally, as Citroën Sport campaigned the ZX from 1990-onwards, so the team implemented its own innovations and evolutional changes.
With the might of a factory budget and the will of an entire nation behind them, the ZXs were the undisputed class of the field. Contesting classic events spanning the globe such as the Pharoah’s Rally in Egypt, the Baja Aragon in Spain, the Atlas Rally in Morocco and, of course, the Paris-Dakar Rally, these French behemoths won a staggering 36 of the 42 races they entered and won the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying five times on the bounce between 1993 and 1997.
Designated with the Citroën Sport internal number C11, this ZX Rallye-Raid boasts a competition résumé comprising five events between 1991 and 1993, all contested under the Works banner.
The car made its competitive debut in the 1991 Le Rallye des Pharaons, an epic 3,700-mile race along the banks of the River Nile in Egypt. None other than the 1979 World Rally Champion Björn Waldegård took the wheel, alongside Fred Gallagher reading the notes. In a decisive show of force, Citroën Sport proved the worth of the ZX absolutely, crossing the line first, second and third, with chassis number C11 finishing as the meat in the podium sandwich.
Next up was the big one: the 1992 Dakar Rally. This edition of the great race was notable in that it was the first not to finish in Dakar, rather concluding in Cape Town instead. The 12,500-kilometre cross-continental marathon – encompassing no fewer than 11 African countries including Niger, Gabon, Cameroon and Namibia – lost none of its bite, however.
“Of the 169 participants who made it to the finish line of the 1992 Dakar Rally, Waldegård and Gallagher drove a mature race with this ZX, steering clear of any trouble to finish fourth overall.”
Of the 169 participants who made it to the finish line in Cape Town, Waldegård and Gallagher drove a mature race with chassis number C11, steering clear of any trouble to finish fourth overall. The lead Citroën actually won the fifth stage outright, a 375-kilometre stretch from Sirte to Sabah. Waldegård and Gallagher would enjoy one further outing with this ZX Rallye-Raid in 1992: the Rallye Paris Moscow Beijing, in which they finished sixth overall.
The Dakar Rally returned to its original route for 1993. A second Scandinavian World Rally Champion, this time the 1981 victor Ari Vatanen, took the driver’s seat of chassis number C11, which had been upgraded to Evo 2 specification and refinished in the team’s new red Total livery. Despite he and his co-driver Christian Delferier winning two of the 500-kilomtre-plus special stages outright, Vatanen was dealt a cruel hand by lady luck, enduring a frankly ridiculous number of punctures. He finished eighth.
This Citroën’s final race was the United Arab Emirates Desert Challenge in November of 1993. Concluding the trio of Scandinavian World Rally Champions to drive this ZX was the 1985 victor Timo Salonen. Gallagher returned to the cockpit alongside him, after recovering from a back injury sustained during the Dakar Rally at the beginning of the year. Third position was an excellent high point on which this ZX was honourably retired from competition. It had played an instrumental role in securing Citroën Sport victory in the inaugural FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallying.
“In 1994, the car was registered in the name of Automobiles Citroën and tucked away in the manufacturer’s prized collection of heritage vehicles.”
By no means were chassis number C11’s duties over, however. Back at the factory, Citroën employed this ZX as a testbed for its more powerful next-generation Type XU-15 2.5-litre engine (the engine the car retains to this day). In 1994, the car was registered in the name of Automobiles Citroën and tucked away in the manufacturer’s prized collection of heritage vehicles at its factory in Aulnay. Four years later, chassis C11 was relocated to the world-famous Citroën Conservatoire in Paris.
That’s where C11 would remain until 2012, when the factory, having verified its competition history, took the decision to part with the car. The ZX’s new French owner retained it for eight years, before selling to its final private owner, located on the continent. Having had the French classic-car expert Daniel Thill comprehensively inspect this Citroën and issue a report, the basic mechanical components of the car were serviced.
Today, this ZX Rallye-Raid’s trump card is its time-warp condition. Having never undergone any restoration work since residing in the Citroën Heritage collection, the car retains virtually all its original parts – parts that, at least with other ZXs we’ve encountered, are commonly lost over time.
Take the small front bull-bar, the red bucket seats with their Citroën harnesses or the digital navigation computers used by the co-driver, for example. There is even a piece of tape bearing the hand-written caution notice of an engineer, telling the driver how much fuel they have to make it to the next service area on what was presumably the car’s final rally-raid event. All we have done to the car is commission a thorough two-day professional detail and reapply the 1993 Paris-Dakar Rally roundels to the sides and the roof.
By the end of Citroën’s dominant rally-raid programme in 1997, just 19 ZXs – in their various guises – remained. Chassis C11 is one of the rare few which escaped the clutches of the factory and wound up in the possession of a private owner – somebody who had the foresight and respect to keep it in as original condition as possible.
“C11 is now ready for a new custodian to write its next chapter – whether you want to tear up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed or contest the Dakar Classic.”
C11 is now ready for a new custodian to write its next chapter - whether you want to tear up the Duke of Richmond’s world-famous driveway in front of thousands of onlookers during the Goodwood Festival of Speed or contest the Dakar Classic, a fantastic new event for classic rally-raid cars which shadows the modern Dakar over two weeks in Saudi Arabia. For the intrepid among you, the latter really is one of the greatest and most challenging adventures you’re likely to face with a motorcar. As the late founder of the Paris-Dakar Rally Thierry Sabine famously said, the Dakar is “a challenge for those who go, and a dream for those who stay behind.”
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