Citroen DS3 WRC test mule – Click above for image gallery

With all the regulatory changes in Formula One over the past couple, the rally world is arguably in the midst of an even greater state of flux. Manufacturers are dropping out of the World Rally Championship en masse, the rival Intercontinental Rally Challenge is closing in fast, and soon the WRC will be changing to a more cost-effective formula. Along with it, the participating manufacturers will be developing new rally machinery, but none will be as important as the one you see here.

With rally superstar Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel, Citroen has won five consecutive drivers' titles, and five out of the past seven manufacturers' titles as well – first in the Xsara and then in the C4. But to adapt to the new formula, the French rally team will be switching to a rally-spec super-mini.

Rather than basing their new challenger on the new C3, however, Citroen has opted to use the opportunity to promote the more premium DS3, released in production form just last month at the Frankfurt show. The Mini rival's avant-garde interior has been stripped out and fitted with a pair of competition buckets and a full roll cage. And to keep the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine breathing, the Citroen rally team has fitted its new machine with more scoops than a paparazzo. The rally-prepped DS3 is expected to hit tarmac, gravel and snow for the 2011 season, but you can check it out now in the gallery of photos below.

[Source: Racingpassion via Autocar]

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