French manufacturer Citroen on Thursday played down claims by Qatari racing driver Nasser Al-Attiyah that he would be competing for their storied rally team in the 2012 world rally championship (WRC).
Al-Attiyah, who has competed in shooting events at four Olympic Games and won the Dakar Rally in January for Volkswagen, claimed Wednesday from Doha he had reached agreement with Citroen to be their third driver for next season.
“I will make all the WRC races next year,” said Al-Attiyah, who also claimed the French team is set to be on the receiving end of major Qatari investment.
“I will be the third driver for Citroen after Loeb and Hirvonen. The team will become Citroen Total Qatar World rally team.”
Under WRC rules, ‘third’ drivers can compete in the competition although only the points from each team’s two principal drivers count towards the constructors’ standings.
Citroen is the home of French rally great Sebastien Loeb, who powered his DS3 to an unprecedented eighth consecutive WRC title last week.
The team announced Wednesday that Loeb next season will bid for a ninth title, with Finland’s Mikko Hirvonen, the Frenchman’s sole title rival the past three seasons, driving Citroen’s second car in the WRC next season after quitting Ford.
But they were quick to put the brakes on Al-Attiyah’s claims.
“We’ve only seen him once, and nothing came out of it, nothing has been signed,” a Citroen spokesman told AFP.
Al-Attiyah, 40, also claimed that Citroen were poised to become a sponsor of French football club Paris Saint-Germain, who were taken over by a Qatari investment fund earlier this year.
“Citroen (will) become a sponsor of PSG because PSG is now Qatari.”