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Winner of four rounds in the 2008 World Rally Championship: Monte-Carlo, Germany, Italy and Great Britain
Raced by Sebastien Loeb, the most successful rally driver of all time
Instrumental in securing Loeb his fifth World Rally Championship
Subsequently raced by the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen
Recently restored by a marque specialist to its exact 2008 Rally Deutschland specification and configuration, at a cost of over 110,000 euros
Chassis no. Citroen Sport no. 14
The Citroën C4 WRC
Vanquish. It’s the only word we can find which adequately describes what Sebastien Loeb and the Citroën C4 WRC did to their competition in the World Rally Championship from 2007 to 2010. Of the staggering 36 World Rally victories the C4 clinched, Loeb and his longstanding co-driver Daniel Elena scored 34 of them.
The duo were unbeaten on asphalt. In the process, the Frenchman won his fourth, fifth, six and seventh drivers’ titles. And Citroën reclaimed the manufacturer crown from Ford, winning the 2008, 2009 and 2010 titles. Loeb and the C4 WRC are synonymous. They go together like, well, like French wine and cheese.
From a visual point of view, the rally car Loeb drove with such devastating effect largely resembled the quirky and very French production C4 upon which it was based. From a technological perspective, however, the two cars were worlds apart. The rorty two-litre turbocharged engine produces an ample 315HP, which, when coupled with the steering-wheel-mounted paddle-operated six-speed sequential gearbox, a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system and a dry weight of just over 1,200kg, makes for a scintillating driving experience.
From the cockpit, the Citroën C4 WRC is what we can only liken to a surgeon’s scalpel. It’s so sharp and precise and fast – dizzyingly fast. The gearshifts are like gunshots, arriving relentlessly quickly, one after the other. The nose darts around like a mouse, and although it might not look dramatic from the outside, there’s a serious amount of power and force wriggling through the chassis at full pelt. It also sounds extraordinary: a loud, demonic howl which bounces off the scenery.
Citroën Sport built just 22 C4 WRCs, 21 of which were run by the Works, either under the senior or junior team banners.
This Citroën C4 WRC
The C4 WRC we’re honoured to be offering is chassis number 14, which was completed by Citroën Sport in Versailles on 26 March 2007 – although it was earmarked for active service the following season. As the sticker numbered ‘WRC-07-003’ still affixed to the roll-cage today attests, this car was issued with its FIA Technical Passport and counterpart Gold Book on 23 January 2008.
A fully-fledged Works car, chassis 14 was assigned solely to Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena. The prestigious and notoriously challenging Rallye Automobile de Monte-Carlo, the World Rally Championship’s traditional season-opener, was the car’s first competitive outing, Loeb setting out to defend his driver’s championship and Elena looking to triumph at his home rally.
The duo got off to a stellar start, Loeb driving like a scalded cat on day one and two to carve out a substantial lead. It’s small surprise why the C4 WRC earned the nickname ‘King of Asphalt’ – on that year’s largely dry Rallye Monte-Carl0, the car darted through the stages like a field mouse. Loeb might not have won any of the final day’s stages, but he still beat Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen by over two-and-a-half minutes.
As Loeb won 10 of 19 special stages on the way to his fifth Rallye Monte-Carlo, so the Frenchman became the winningest driver at the history-steeped event, edging ahead of veritable rally legends Walter Röhrl, Sandro Munari and Tommi Mäkinen. Chassis 14 had left the traps and won the most famous rally on the planet. Not a bad way to kick off the 2008 World Rally Championship.
Round two and an unusually snow-free Swedish Rally was chassis 14’s next outing, though the weekend ended prematurely when Loeb made an uncharacteristic mistake on day one.
Ahead of this car’s third event, the Jordan Rally, which had qualified as a World Rally Championship round for the first time, Citroën Sport announced that Red Bull had joined its roster of key commercial partners. As a result of the news, a striking new blue, red and yellow livery for the C4 WRCs was revealed, prominently featuring Red Bull’s branding. If the previous plain red livery was a little, well, plain, the cars’ new dress made them look spectacular, and every bit the World Rally Champion.
On the stiflingly dusty special stages of Jordan, Loeb and chassis 14 were in a class of their own, claiming nine stage victories and carving out a 35-second lead. That was until an error on the team’s part resulted in an embarrassing coming together between Loeb and his teammate Conrad Rautenbach on a transit stage on day two. The speed at which the two cars collided was a meagre 10mph, but the damage was done and Loeb retired.
On 16–18 May 2008, the World Rally Championship descended on the Costa Smeralda and the picturesque Italian island of Sardinia. At just under 34km, ‘Crastazza’ early on day one was the longest stage of the weekend, encompassing a flat-out jump to be taken at close to 140kph. It was on this narrow and treacherously slippery gravel stage that Loeb found his groove, digging deep into his locker and obliterating everyone else by a scarcely believable 18 seconds.
Typically cool and collected, if a little sweaty, Loeb played down his efforts. “It was important for me to score some good points here. I had to push a lot all the time.” Loeb never relinquished the lead from that point of the rally onwards, despite the best efforts of Ford’s flying Finn Jari-Matti Latvala during the weekend. Notably, Rally d’Italia Sardegna in 2008 was the Frenchman’s fourth win of the season and 40th WRC victory overall.
If there was an event on which Sebastien Loeb could legitimately be described as a master, it was Rally Deutschland. The Frenchman won the asphalt rally an unrivalled nine times between 2002 and 2012. Despite the promise of monsoon-like conditions, the 27th ADAC Rally Deutschland in 2008 was dry throughout – not that that phased Loeb, who was setting out to clinch his seventh consecutive victory at the event.
Based around Germany’s oldest city Trier, the rally was lead throughout by Loeb, driving the Citroën C4 WRC chassis 14 for the fifth time. In what was a textbook weekend, during which driver and co-driver danced in perfect harmony, winning 14 of the rally’s 19 special stages and crossing the finish line 47 seconds ahead of his teammate Dani Sordo in second position. Both Loeb and Citroën Sport regained the lead in their respective championships.
Chassis 14 was afforded a deserved break following Rally Deutschland. Its next outing was at Wales Rally GB in December, the final round of the 2008 World Rally Championship. If Germany was straightforward sprint for Loeb, then Wales was a testing hurdles race. Wales in December is not exactly a warm proposition, but in 2008, the conditions were extra frigid. And for Loeb, who’d actually rolled his Mitsubishi Lancer during a pre-rally recce, the outlook was uncertain.
His fears weren’t unfounded. On the treacherously icy Welsh stages, Loeb – and, in turn, his team – complained heavily about the icy conditions on day one and two, which was reflected in the results: Jari-Matti Latvala led heading into Sunday. “If I lose this rally now,” said the Finn on Saturday night, “then the better man will win.” And then, as though he’d been purposely sandbagging the entire time, Loeb switched ‘on’.
As had been the recurring theme of the season, Loeb and Elena were simply untouchable, the pair winning their 11th rally of 2008 in spectacular fashion on the very final stretch of the rally. Miraculously, it was Loeb’s first Rally GB win. “It was so exciting to fight with Jari-Matti,” commented Loeb amid the celebrations at the finish line. “I tried everything I could in the last one, so to win right at the end is very special.”
Loeb’s fifth consecutive World Rally Championship drivers’ title was already in the bag before Wales Rally GB had even started, but Dani Sordo’s superb drive to third in the sister C4 WRC was enough to reclaim Citroën Sport the manufacturer’s crown from Ford. It was the French marque’s fourth championship victory.
This Citroën C4 WRC was not permitted to rest on its title-winning laurels for long. Chassis 14 was earmarked as part of the Citroën Junior Rally Team for the 2009 World Rally Championship. Driven by the likes of Chris Atkinson and Eveniy Novikov, the car entered four rounds that season: Rally Ireland, Rally Norway, Rally Cyprus and RACC Catalunya.
And its service was required on one further occasion during the 2010 World Rally Championship, too. Rally Mexico was the round, which that year formed part of the wider celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the Mexican Revolution and the 200th anniversary of its independence. Party fever and the scent of tequila was very much in the air, which we’re sure would have pleased the man who was due to drive chassis 14: one Kimi Räikkönen.
Jaded and demotivated by the politics at Ferrari, the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion famously took a sabbatical in 2010 and turned his hand to rallying, an entirely different motorsport arena.
Driving under the Citroën Junior Rally Team banner and partnered by Kaj Lindström (who’d previously read notes for Tommi Mäkinen), Kimi showed much promise and became only the second Formula 1 driver in history (Carlos Reutemann was the first) to score points in the World Rally Championship. Alas, on the air-starved peaks and expansive valleys of Mexico, the Iceman was not quite as successful, retiring early on.
The inherent speed and robustness of the C4 WRC guaranteed its longevity almost immediately, and as was the case with virtually all of the 22 cars built and rallied by Citroën Sport, chassis 14 was subsequently campaigned by privateers in national rally championships in Italy, France and Belgium, and with much success. In what was a very special moment for this C4, Sebastien Loeb was reunited with the car at the famous Italian rally celebration Rallylegend in 2018. And he was joined in the car by none other than Nicky Grist, who famously called the notes for Colin McRae.
Upon acquiring chassis 14 in early 2021, we took the car to Wales for a shakedown. In addition to producing our own video documenting Max Girardo’s maiden drive in this most sophisticated of rally cars, which you can watch by clicking here, we invited the renowned British motoring journalist Henry Catchpole along to have a go as well.
Not only did Catchpole produced an exquisite video for the Carfection YouTube channel, which has almost been viewed 500,000 times, but he also wrote a stunning 10-page feature for Evo magazine. Telling of this Citroën’s star quality, the Evo editors opted to put the car on the cover. Naturally, a copy of the magazine can be found in the history file accompanying the car.
The Wales shakedown for chassis 14 was not in vein – just a few short weeks later, this C4 WRC made an appearance at the 2021 Goodwood Festival of Speed. In what proved to be one of the more surreal moments of the weekend, Max seized the opportunity to meet Sébastien Loeb himself and, more specifically, quiz him about how to most effectively use the C4’s launch control system.
Straight after Goodwood we transported the car to the longstanding French rally car preparation specialist PH Sport for a major mechanical and aesthetic overhaul. To say there’s no one better qualified for the task is an understatement – PH Sport is the go-to company for French World Rally cars, having prepared and run many of them on the national and international stages over the years. Chassis 14 is no stranger to the engineers at PH Sport.
In fact, the engineer who managed the project, Sébastien Chevalier, was a part of the Citroën Junior Rally Team in 2010 and worked on chassis number 14 during Rally Mexico in 2010, when the car was driven by Kimi Räikkönen.
The objective from the outset with the restoration was to return this C4 WRC to the exact specification and livery in which it vanquished the opposition at Rally Deutschland in 2008, leaving no stone unturned to ensure every last detail was authentic and period correct. Totaling over 110,000 euros, the works included stripping the car back to its bare-metal shell, systems checking the complex electrical features, overhauling the suspension and braking systems, and replacing any expired or non-original parts with authentic parts.
Many of said parts were ‘new-old’ stock which came from the former Works outfit – those small yet incredibly important details such as the ariels, carbon-fibre window surrounds, WRC-specific rubber seals, the quick-release carbon-fibre bumpers and the headlights. The latter are especially scarce and cost almost 7,000 euros… apiece. PH Sport even used the original Citroën Sport C4 WRC user manuals while rebuilding the car. Such was the extensiveness of the restoration, we saw fit to have each key step documented by our professional photographers.
With 36 World Rally Championship victories under its belt, the Citroën C4 WRC is right up there on the list of history’s most successful top-flight rally cars. And of course, its legend would not have been forged without a certain Sebastien, a man who, to put it simply, is the greatest rally driver of all time. It was in this very car, chassis 14, that the C4 and Loeb showed the world just why they warranted the hype. And on multiple occasions. This single chassis won four rounds of the 2008 World Rally Championship, and prestigious rounds, too: Monte-Carlo, Italy, Germany and Great Britain.
As a result, this C4 ticks all the boxes for today’s discerning collectors. Its original FIA Gold Book certifies its provenance, although arguably the most fascinating aspect of the history file is the comprehensive documentation for all four of the rallies in which this C4 WRC triumphed. With everything from driver pace notes, spectator guides, media itineraries and journalists’ first-hand notes to special stage timesheets, maps and manufacturer schedules, they are nostalgic and extraordinarily detailed snapshots of the world-famous events Loeb won with this very car.
Chassis 14’s historical significance guarantees its eligibility and its originality, having never been re-shelled, is extremely desirable. Perhaps more importantly, it’s a car whose driving experience will sear itself into your soul. Okay, so you’re not Sebastien Loeb. But after a blast in chassis 14, you’ll certainly feel like him.
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