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The Citroën SM was not designed as an all out sports car. It's refined, long distance and luxurious profile means an unfavorable power to weight ratio in motorsport terms. Citroën chose to exploit the "Citroën" qualities of the SM for it's competition program. Long distance events over rugged terrain were chosen to demonstrate the car's potential.
Première sortie, première victoire
"Première sortie, première victoire" (first outing, first win) that's how Citroën announced the victory of the SM in the Morocco rally of 1971. This rally, were Citroën was very successful with the DS for a number of years, was chosen for the competition debut of the SM. 2 cars were aligned at the start. One SM piloted by Jean Vinatier-Pierre Thimonier started the race aggressively trying to lead from the start. They realized very good times but were forced to retire with transmission problems. The other SM driven by Jean Deschaseaux-Jean Plassard took a more conservative approach and won the event. The car behaved impeccably only requiring brake and tire changes. Both SMs were equipped with the new Michelin RR (roues en résine) wheels, later offered on the production SM as an option. Both cars were entered under group 4 rules and were very close to the production models. The engines (2,7 liter) had a slight power increase (5hp DIN) due to a redesigned exhaust system. The cars were lightened by stripping out the interior but driveline protection plates and a substantial rollcage brought the weight to 1680 kg. Citroën produced a film by Claude Caillet celebration the SM's first victory.
Citroën returned to morocco in 1972 with three SM's. That year the event was particularly grueling and only 9 cars reached the finish line. The DS piloted by Robert Netret won, but none of the Sm's finished.
For the 1972 TAP rally in Portugal Citroën prepared anSM prototype (group 5 version). The car had a shortened chassis with special fiberglass bodywork reducing weight to 1200kg. The car was equipped with a special 3 liter engine and Weber 48 IDA carburetors delivering 250hp. The race was run under torrential rains. In the second special stage the SM was heavily penalized by suspension trouble. A heroic comeback made the car finish 3rd overall and first in group 5 class.
The Bandama rally (or the Ivory Coast Marathon) is a very
grueling event run over a distance of 3897 km of which 3540 km of tracks.
A prototype SM finished the race 6th overall, another famous comeback
after early electrical problems..
These group 5 prototype SM's owed much to a special SM development program run by Jacques Né. Searching for the upper limits of front wheel drive this man created some very special SM's. More about these cars soon...