The ‘Rallye de France – Alsace’ is one of three runs to be held purely on asphalt in the world championship. In terms of character, it most closely resembles the Germany Rally, whose headquarters are located just over 200 kilometres away in Trier. In Alsace, too, the cars drive through vineyards. What’s more, the B roads used are wide and well constructed, which tends to require a clean ‘driving style’ with no drifts. In contrast, there is a super special stage in Strasbourg this year, which will take place right outside the European Parliament. There is also plenty of variety to be had on the longest special stage in the France Rally. At just over 34 kilometres, the ‘Pays d’Ormont’ special stage provides an interesting mix of fast and slow sections with highly varied driving conditions. In places the asphalt is wide and flat, elsewhere it is narrower and bumpier. Variety from the first to the last kilometre – in other words, a typical Alsace stage.
Date: 3 till 5 October 2014
There’s a group of people who are often overlooked during a rally, and that’s the co-drivers. They are, of course, unjustly overlooked, because rallying is a team sport, and without a co-driver’s very quick instructions, it would be impossible for a driver to drive a WRC vehicle at high speed. After all, you’re sure to run into trouble if you’re driving at 160 km/h without any idea of whether you need to steer left or right after the next corner.
Julien Ingrassia about Rally France.
What’s different about Rally France?
Being French, Rally France is obviously my ‘home rally’ and I really do feel at home there. The scenery, the roads, the signs, the fans – it’s all very familiar to me. Rally France is also particularly popular in the media, as demonstrated by the huge number of camera teams that line the route. The region around Strasbourg is also very familiar, so you’re not driving in the middle of nowhere like you are in some rallies.
What do you have to pay particular attention to in Rally France?
The roads on the liaison sections can sometimes be very congested, because there’s always a lot of traffic between Strasbourg and Colmar. As the co-driver, I obviously have to take this into account.
What has been your finest moment in Rally France?
Our first victory in France in 2011. We were involved in a pretty tight battle with Sébastien Loeb. In the end, he was hit by engine trouble, but it was still a great fight for victory, which we ultimately fortunately managed to clinch. For me, it also kind of marked the start of a string of subsequent wins on similar road surfaces in France. And last year, we succeeded in repeating this success.
And what about your worst moment in Rally France?
When we broke our suspension in 2010. We tried to repair it along the way, but it was too badly damaged, so we were forced to pull out.