In this episode of Carfection, Henry Catchpole tries to follow in the great footsteps of Sebastien Loeb, who drives the legendary Citroën C4 WRC. This automotive masterpiece is a World Rally Car built by Citroën Racing to compete in the World Rally Championship. The duo of C4 WRC and Loeb won all 13 all-tarmac rallies in the championship, starting with the 2007 Monte Carlo Rally.
From 2008 to today
The car Henry will drive is the Citroën C4 WRC in a Red Bull livery – the car he had during Rallye Deutschland 2008. Previously, at the legendary Monte Carlo Rally, where it made its debut, the car was plain red. In 2008 this car also took part in Sardinia Rally and Wales Rally GB. Although designed for asphalt rallies, this very Citroën also completed gravel and mud rallies. However, the winning combination was a French driver in a French car on the tarmac.
After 2008 there were other teams and drivers, such as Citroën’s junior rally team. The current owner and collector is proud that the two world champions drove this car. One was Sebastien Loeb, the other Kimi Raikkonen, who switched from Formula 1 to rallying at the time.
A WRC car to take to a pub
The car Henry will drive is street legal, and that’s the coolest thing about owning a rally car. However, it has very little in common with the C4 road car. It puts out 320 hp of braking power and about 430 lb-ft of torque for a weight of 1,230 kg. This C4 comes with an active center differential but mechanically front and rear. For a lay driver, this means the car is less scary, less complicated to drive, but still very tricky.
Henry once drove one of these cars with Sebastian Loeb on a gravel stage in 2008. Being so tall he could see what Sebastien was doing with the steering wheel and pedals and it was a tough experience but Loeb was also so calm in the car. Henry also admired the speed he was able to carry through corners by opening the throttle early and getting the active differential to work.
Feel the vibration
Once inside, it takes some time to acclimate. It’s spacious enough but intimidating. Aside from the obvious things like the steering wheel with paddle shifters, handbrake and horn, there are tons of switches and buttons to learn. On the steering wheel itself are buttons for adjusting accelerator pedal sensitivity, center differential, launch controls and lights. There are three pedals in the footwell, with a giant brake pedal and a tiny clutch pedal, as you’ll need one rather than the other on stage.
The car starts and it sounds so angry, sending its vibrations through the seat to the driver. Although the outside view is somewhat limited because of a sun visor strip and all, the layout of the controls gives the driver confidence. The shift paddles are very sensitive – sometimes the driver can switch gears unintentionally. The car feels a lot firmer and flatter than Henry expected. It’s more like a touring car, but with insane responsiveness. He says this is perhaps the most serious WRC car he has ever driven.
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