The First Driver, Who Won a World Championship Rally in a Citroen, Passed Away

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The sudden and untimely death of Philippe Bugalski’s is that news stories that no team ever wishes to have to announce. He was a Frenchman from Vichy and was a renowned Citroën factory driver from 1998 to 2003 and always remained part of the team, as a test and shakedown driver for new cars before they were sent away on rallies.

Sébastien Loeb added: “I feel really upset by this tragic news. We’ve just lost somebody who was incredibly special. Beyond his consummate professionalism and talent, I will always remember his human values. ‘Bug’ was a person with huge spirit, who had time and warmth for everyone. We will all miss him.”

Philippe Bugalski  made his competition debut in the mid-1980s, ‘le Petit Bug’ to quickly become one of the brightest rising French rally stars. With his name already established he joined Citroën Sport at the end of 1997. He was a cornerstone of the development program for the Xsara Kit Car, immediately winning two French Championship titles with it in 1998 and 1999.

The 1999 season was highlighted by two World Championship victories in Catalunya and Corsica. These triumphs which were plucked from under the noses of the four-wheel drive turbocharged World Rally Cars, would prove fruitful to Citroën’s decision to graduate to the highest level of the sport.

From 2000 the team focused on the development of the Xsara T4, which allowed its star driver to claim a third consecutive French Championship title. It was in 2001 that Citroën began its first World Rally Championship campaign with a limited four-round program. Philippe was the first driver to score a point with the Xsara WRC (on the Acropolis Rally) and acted as mentor to Sébastien Loeb when the future champion made his debut with the car in Sanremo.

He was also part of the factory WRC line-up on asphalt rallies in the following seasons before calling time on his professional career at the end of 2003. His passion however remained undiminished. Philippe was also a lover of horses and he judiciously divided his time between his horses, running the Automéca team, as well as his role as test driver for Citroën Racing.

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