Thu 08 Feb 2024

Time-travelling Bonato shoots for an ERC hat-trick with new team

Citroën-powered Yoann Bonato will go back in time when he bids for more FIA European Rally Championship success in 2024.

The two-time ERC event winner is paying homage to the mainly blue and red colour scheme that first adorned the Citroën Xsara WRCs competing in the FIA World Rally Championship 21 years ago.  

But while Bonato will continue to count on Citroën technology in his pursuit of victory across a combined European and French championship campaign, 2024 marks the beginning of a new adventure.  

Having completed his long-standing alliance with CHL Sport Auto, Bonato is entrusting the running of his Citroën C3 Rally2 to new team Trajectus Motorsport, which is owned by Benoît Tréluyer, the three-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the 2012 FIA World Endurance champion. 

“It’s a completely new team for me,” said Bonato. “Benoît Tréluyer is a very famous racing driver who started to make his team for the circuits. At the beginning when I called him to see if he was available to do a rally team he said ‘no’. But when I explained the situation and the target he said ‘yes, we can do it’. I know him for a long time and we are really good friends so it’s a good human adventure to do it together.”  

Explaining the choice of car livery design, Bonato said: “The car looks like the old Citroën Xsara WRC with the same blue and red, the white band at the front and the yellow, orange and white close to the windscreens. It was with this car that Citroën took its first WRC victory [in 2001] and these colours were [first used 21] years ago. The Xsara is a special car for the history of Citroën. The chicken on the side? Well, that’s the symbol of Igol and France.”

Bonato and co-driver Benjamin Boulloud are planning a three-event ERC campaign this season starting with May’s Rally Islas Canarias, which they won in 2023, followed by Rally di Roma Capitale in July and ERC newcomer Rally Silesia in October.  

“I choose these rallies mainly because they are the ones that are compatible with the French championship calendar even though I expected to do more at the beginning,” said the 40-year-old. “But for sure we really wanted to do Canarias [after winning last year] and also Roma, but not for the revenge [after losing out on a podium last year], but for my objective. The level in Italy is quite high like in France, the drivers and the cars and the teams are really good and it will be a good result if we can win in Roma, a nice reference in the ERC on Tarmac. Then rally in Poland [Rally Silesia] is a new one so why not?”  

Bonato will also promote Igol’s sponsorship of Amiens, the French Ligue 2 side, during 2024.  

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Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM