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Ladies and gentlemen, meet Citroen’s new rally hero: the DS3 WRC.

Unveiled today together with the firm’s driver line-up for the 2011 rally season, the new DS3 follows in rather celebrated, large and muddy footsteps; it is the third Citroen rally car involved in top-level world rallying for ten years, following the Xsara and C4.

Fiesta and Countryman WRC cars revealed

Piloting the DS3 WRC will be none other than Sebastien Loeb, a gentlemen whose penchant for going sideways has earned him seven world championship titles. He’ll be partnerning Daniel Elena, while Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia have been promoted to the works outfit.

And it’s not going to be easy for Loeb, as he confessed the DS3 would present new challenges compared to his old C4. “The DS3’s shorter so it’s more agile in the corners, but it’s also twitchier in the faster sections.

Top Gear drives the Citroen DS3 R3

“Overall we’re going to have to do more work behind the steering wheel,” said our Seb.

Three more privateers will contest the DS3 WRC this year: Petter Solberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Peter van Merksteijn.

Following a change in the WRC rules, the DS3 now sports a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-pot engine (down from a turbo’d 2.0-litre) designed in-house by Citroen Racing. It bolts onto a four-wheel-drive transmission with a manually controlled sequential gearbox, which all equals Maximus Slideyus.

The first round kicks off in the Swedish Rally on 10-13 February. Excited?

Gallery: Citroen’s greatest rally jumps

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