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2011-12-20 08:19

WELCOME TO CITROEN: Citroen Racing's announced a host of new signings, including reigning IRC champ, Thierry Neuville.

Thierry Neuville has become the first Belgian driver to sign up for the World Rally championship since Francois Duval in 2005; he has been hired by Citroen for at least nine of the 13 rallies of the 2012 season.

The 23-year-old - winner of two of the second tier IRC championship in 2011 - is seen by Citroen as an investment for the future just as was Frenchman Sebastien Ogier, who finished third in the 2011 World Rally championships with five wins, signed for Volkswagen after being released from his Citroen deal in December, 2011.


Ogier had made clear towards the business end of the season as he closed in on Citroen's lead driver and eight-times World champion Sebastien Loeb that he was not happy about the preferential treatment given to his compatriot.

Neuville, though, did not sound like a potential troublemaker after the announcement. "I am still finding it hard to believe," he said. "The 2011 season was very positive, with wins from the legendary and difficult Tour of Corsica and San Remo rallies

"It is imperative that I move up another gear and I am proud that Citroen Racing has placed their confidence in me for 2012."


Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel said the team believed he was worth the risk. "We decided that the moment had come to give him his opportunity at the highest level. Like Sebastien Ogier recently, Thierry will have at his disposal a team which will permit him complete his learning curve."

Neuville is the third new arrival at Citroen. He follows Finland's three-times World championship runner-up Mikko Hirvonen and Qatar's Dakar Rally champion Nasser Al-Attiyah.

Neuville should make his WRC debut in the Monte Carlo Rally on January 18, 2012.

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