Making a Difference

Picture DS3Peter van Merksteijn Jr is to drive a new Citroen DS3 WRC on ten rounds of the 2011 World Rally Championship. The Dutchman's car will be entered under the Van Merksteijn Motorsport banner but with full factory support from Citroen Racing 'under the same conditions as this year's Citroen Junior Team'.

Citroen Racing chief Olivier Quesnel has paid tribute to new customer Peter van Merksteijn Jr after the Dutchman agreed to surrender his DS3 WRC to enable Petter Solberg to contest the world championship-opening Rally Sweden next month. Solberg inked a late deal to drive a DS3 WRC on all 13 rounds of the world championship earlier this month but there were fears that a car would not be available for him to drive on the Karlstad-based rally owing to Citroen's restricted build schedule.

Van Merksteijn Jr, whose programme was due to start in Scandinavia, has agreed to let Solberg use his car in Sweden and will now delay his WRC debut with the French manufacturer until Vodafone Rally de Portugal at the end of March.

Quesnel said: "Petter has finally signed late in the day but he will indeed run in all 13 rallies. For Peter van Merksteijn Jr I would like to thank him because it's thanks to him that Petter races in Sweden. He has given him his car for that rally."

Van Merksteijn Motorsport team manager Gerard Grove added: "We had an agreement for Sweden but there were not enough cars available for that event. Following a very good discussion with Citroen Racing we have decided to not take part to give Petter the possibility of driving there. We will now go to Argentina instead of Sweden."

Although Citroen plans to build at least 15 DS3 WRCs in 2011, a decision was taken late last year to only ready four cars for Sweden with the remainder being constructed during the course of the season.

Xavier Mestelan-Pinon, Citroen Racing's technical manager, explained: "Peter van Merksteijn was the first to sign, then Kimi said he wanted a car and then Petter, but there were no cars for Petter. It was impossible at the start of the season because I don't have enough chassis or engine. In the past, all customers drive the old C4, but now it's the new car and so all the customers must have the new car."


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