Citoen DS3 Racing leaked – Click above for image gallery

Think of a road-ready rally machine, and what pops into your head? Likely the Subaru Impreza WRX STI or Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X, right? Well Subaru hasn't won the World Rally Championship in seven years, Mitsubishi in eleven. In fact, neither is even trying anymore: Both have withdrawn from the championship. No, that territory is Citroen's to claim. The French automaker (with its star driver Sebastien Loeb) have been the reigning champs since 2004, but Citroen hasn't really capitalized on its gravel-drifting prowess with anything even approaching what of the WRX and Evo. Until now.

Although the current C4 Loeb has won the past three world rally championships in remains in active duty for another season – with former F1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen taking the wheel in the junior team – after that the new rally-spec DS3 (previewed in a batch of spy shots a few months ago) will take its place. From the looks of things, however, Citroen isn't waiting around for the DS3 to match the C4's dominance before they roll out the street version.

Following an earlier report last month hinting at the hot DS3's arrival, a handful of photos showing what insiders suggest is the finished product have leaked onto the interwebs. Brought to us by our compadres over at Autoblog Spanish, these shots were recently confirmed as the real deal (and not as photochops as originally suspected) when the same car showed up in other images released (and since retracted) by the factory.

The car pictured features wider wheel flarings housing bigger hoops and riding on a dropped suspension. Sources peg it at 15 millimeters stouter than stock, with NAFTA four-pot brakes front and rear. Under the hood, the 1.6-liter turbo four is tipped to produce between 200 and 210 horsepower, driving through a six-speed manual (the jury's still out on the presence of a limited-slip differential) and likely to the front wheels to propel the DS3 Racing to 62 mph in 6.8 seconds. The Halloween livery may be a love-it-or-hate-it affair, but this is likely what we'll see, if the reports prove accurate at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. For our part, we'll take ours in deep blue, with a big red leaping bull on the side and our names printed above the doors.

[Source: Autoblog Spanish]

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