Unsurprisingly, the WRC team won't be changing their C3 any time soon...

Citroën has handed its new Berlingo van to its world rally team, creating what it calls the “ultimate test” of the commercial vehicle.

The van, which is also available as a passenger-carrying minivan, was handed over to World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Esapekka Lappi and his co-driver Janne Ferm, who normally ply their trade in a C3 WRC car. Instead, they strapped themselves into a Berlingo kitted out in "Worker" spec, with 30 mm (1.18 in) more ground clearance than the standard vehicle, as well as underbody protection, Citroën's Grip Control traction control system, Hill Descent Assist and mud and snow tires.

Although the Berlingo "Worker" was built to tackle the slightly rougher terrain found on building sites, the Citroën Total WRT team took it to the rather more daunting Langley Park Rally School in Essex. Here, Lappi and Ferm were tasked with putting the vehicle through its paces, giving them an extra stage to add to a grueling season that saw the pair manage two podiums.

As you can see in the video above, Lappi didn’t hold back, sliding the van through the dusty course laid out in the Essex countryside, as well as jumping the vehicle over crests and giving it the beans on the rough track. The van, decked out in a special centenary livery, appears to survive more or less unscathed.

After putting the van through its paces, Lappi said he was surprised how well the van stood up to the punishment, but didn’t plan to swap it for his rally-going C3 any time soon.

“I was surprised that the new Berlingo van handled the rally stage so brilliantly,” he said. “The van was strong, very comfortable to drive and managed the corners exceptionally well. I might not swap my C3 WRC for a Berlingo, but it would definitely be useful as a reserve option!”

Meanwhile Matt Weston, Citroen U.K.’s light commercial vehicle product manager, said the rally championship was a proving ground not just for vehicles, but the technology they feature.

“WRC has always served as the perfect test bed for many of the technologies we see in our passenger cars today,” he said. “This was an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our best-selling new Berlingo van in a fun and safe way, and really test it to its limits. Although it may not have been quite the performance model Lappi and Ferm are used to, it certainly didn’t disappoint for comfort, robustness and driveability.”

Gallery: Citroen Berlingo Rally Stage

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CITROËN UK PUTS AWARD-WINNING NEW BERLINGO VAN THROUGH ITS PACES IN WORLD RALLY STRESS TEST

Citroën UK has just put its New Berlingo Van to the ultimate test, with a little help from Citroën World Rally crew, Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm. Hot from their podium finish at Rally Finland, the pair spent a day at Langley Park Rally School in Essex, putting the multi-award winning New Berlingo Van through its paces. Testing the van’s robust construction, safe handling and Citroën Advanced Comfort® features, Lappi and Ferm didn’t hold back as they traded their C3 WRC for the brand’s best-selling LCV. Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/B1FSwbHBlsY

Citroën Total WRT pair – Esapekka Lappi and Janne Ferm – are no strangers to the C3 WRC and what it can do on a rally stage. However – hot off the heels of their second-place finish in Rally Finland – it was a New Berlingo ‘Worker’ Van that was given the World Rally treatment earlier this month at Langley Park Rally School in Essex.

Lappi and Ferm tackled the Langley Park ‘special stage’ with their usual enthusiasm, holding absolutely nothing back. Watch the full video here: https://youtu.be/B1FSwbHBlsY

Encouraged by the long list of industry award wins since its launch last year – including International Van of the Year 2019and What Van? LCV of the Year 2019 – Citroën UK was keen to test its best-selling New Berlingo Van to the limit. The ‘Worker’ version was selected because of its suitability for rough terrain, including use on building sites and unmade country roads.

The Finnish duo were asked to swap their usual C3 WRC for the New Berlingo ‘Worker’ Van, which comes with raised ground clearance (+30mm), underbody protection, Grip Control® with Hill Descent Assist and Mud & Snow Tyres.

In a WRC season that has seen the pair land two podiums (Rally Sweden and Rally Finland), the one-off bonus stage at Langley Park allowed Lappi and Ferm to demonstrate New Berlingo Van’s robust nature and enhanced occupant comfort.

Berlingo has been a cornerstone of the Citroën range since 1996, with more than 3.3 million sales in total including the passenger car version.

Esapekka Lappi, Citroën Total WRT driver, said: “I was surprised that New Berlingo Van handled the rally stage so brilliantly. The van was strong, very comfortable to drive and managed the corners exceptionally well. I might not swap my C3 WRC for a Berlingo, but it would definitely be useful as a reserve option!”

Matt Weston, Citroën UK LCV Product Manager, commented: “WRC has always served as the perfect test bed for many of the technologies we see in our passenger cars today. This was an excellent opportunity for us to showcase our best-selling New Berlingo Van in a fun and safe way, and really test it to its limits. Although it may not have been quite the performance model Lappi and Ferm are used to, it certainly didn’t disappoint for comfort, robustness and driveability.”