Today Citroën has reminded us of a very special date that is neither more nor less than the 30th anniversary of the Citroën ZX Rally-Raid, a model that marked history for the brand.
The model on which this beast was based sought to conquer the segment C, one of the most registered registrations in Europe. The brand wanted to offer a model that would fill the gap that existed between the Citroën AX and the Citroën BX.
In 1989 it was officially created Citroën Sport, with the veteran rally driver Guy Fréquelin in front. His first initiative was to launch a Rally Raids program to compete in tests such as the Dakar or the Rally of the Pharaohs, tests that measured both the resistance of the vehicles as well as their reliability and their ability to face extreme conditions. At that time, the N2 Program, the embryo of the future ZX, was already fully mature. Only his release and commercial launch were missing.
The idea was to make noise and so the Citroën ZX -which brought many innovations-, it was not going to be released in a motor show or an exclusive event but would be launched in competition, with a Rally-Raid version that would face the most demanding tracks in the world before the model will arrive at the dealerships.
The bet could not go better: the ZX Rally-Raid debuted in Baja Aragón in July 1990, just 30 years ago. A race in which the two vehicles registered by the brand, piloted by Ari Vatanen and Jacky Ickx They achieved a historic double, scoring victory and second place. And this would only be the beginning.
When the “street” model was revealed in the Geneva Motor Show 1991, his reputation preceded him. Two months earlier, Ari Vatanen had achieved an overwhelming victory in the Paris-Dakar of that year. A feat that this model would repeat three other times, in 1994, 1995, and 1996, with Pierre Lartigue at the wheel.
With the ZX Rallye-Raid, the Citroën team will impose its rhythm throughout each test for several seasons, achieving an impressive record, with 36 victories in 42 participations, including 4 victories in the Dakar (1991, 1994, 1995 and 1996) and is the only edition of the 1992 Paris-Pekin. Five consecutive world titles, between 1992 and 1997 are the best exponent to demonstrate the absolute dominance of this legendary car in the tests of the FIA World Cup of Rallies All Terrain. An imprint that is still alive in the official Citroën in a competition that is distinguished by the red Vallelunga that this car premiered in the mid-90s.
The competition version of the ZX was the best cover letter for an innovative model, which prioritized comfort, performance, and practicality with great innovations such as its innovative rear axle with “programmed self-direction effect” which ensured exceptional road behavior or its folding rear bench seat, which has become, since then, an essential element.
Citroën ZX Rally Raid honors from 1990 to 1997:
- 36 wins in 42 races, including 4 Dakar wins
- 25 wins for Pierre Lartigue, 10 for Ari Vatanen, and 1 for Timo Salonen
- 5 Constructors’ titles at the FIA Rallye-Raid World Cup (from 1993 to 1997)
- 5 Pilot titles: Pierre Lartigue from 1993 to 1996 and Ari Vatanen in 1997