Rally France: Citroen Racing Trophy preview

Citroen Racing Trophy: A new challenge for the Citroen C2 The pulses of the Citroen Racing Trophy crews will be racing as they compete on the Grand National, which is also the sixth round of the French asphalt championship. This all-new event,...

Citroen Racing Trophy: A new challenge for the Citroen C2

The pulses of the Citroen Racing Trophy crews will be racing as they compete on the Grand National, which is also the sixth round of the French asphalt championship. This all-new event, which will also form part of the prestigious World Rally Championship, breaks new ground for the Citroen Racing Trophy, which is sure to rise to the occasion of this latest challenge.

The majestic city of Strasbourg, classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, will host the Rallye de France and the Grand National for the first time, putting together two top- class motorsport events. This will allow all the competitors to sample the entirety of the rally itinerary through Alsace, which is well known for being fast and tricky particularly when conditions become foggy. Nobody holds a particular advantage over the varied route that takes in vineyards, rivers, and medieval fortresses, where reliability and endurance are key ingredients to a strong performance. While the French Championship classification is frozen at the end of 12 stages and 219 competitive kilometres, the crews will then have the chance to continue their adventures by contesting virtually all of Sunday's stages, adding an extra 100 competitive kilometres.

This will be the perfect occasion for all the Trophy competitors to measure themselves against world-class opposition, under a format and regulations that are different to what they know. Frenchman Marc Amourette, who is sure to be a frontrunner in his C2 S1600, will meet some well-known rivals and is sure to have his heart set on starring in the category. At the wheel of the C2-R2 MAX, the fired-up Germain Bonnefis, current Trophy leader Jean-Renaud Marchal, and local man Jerôme Schmitt are likely to be at the forefront of R2 with just one objective: winning the class on this highly unusual rally. The Citroen Racing Trophy Ireland champion, Martin McCormack, will also take the start and could well give the established favourites something to think about. After making a lot of progress since the start of the season, Mathieu Artzner and Mickael Reydellet will be super-motivated. They both now feel extremely comfortable with the C2-R2 MAX and this rally represents a golden opportunity for them to up their pace and bring home an important haul of points. Eric Lafont, co- driven by his wife Nadine, is contesting the rally in order to experience something new while enjoying himself behind the wheel of his C2-R2 MAX.

Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Racing's customer competition department, said: "The Citroen Racing Trophy drivers will have to step up a gear on this rally, as they are going to be subject to the same rules and technical conditions of a World Rally Championship event. The pace and the format will be rather different to what they are accustomed to, so it's sure to be a very interesting experience. The rally route which is reputed to be extremely quick is going to be brand new for everyone and it is sure to test cars and people to the limit. Local weather conditions, which are often complex at this time of year, are sure to be a determining factor of the rally, where the reliability and endurance of the C2-R2 MAX will be tested more than ever."

On Friday 1 October, the 140 crews will start the Rallye de France Alsace for three hectic days of competition between the Rhine and the Vosges.

What they thought before the start...

Marc Amourette (C2 Super 1600): "It's a fantastic adventure for us to embark on such an unaccustomed rally like this one. There are going to be some very fierce rivals out there, but we're going to do everything we can to show the very best of ourselves and come close to the best in class."

Mathieu Artzner (C2-R2 MAX): "We don't know anything at all about this type of event, so our objective will be simply to put in a good performance. It's a massive rally for us, and the experience that we are sure to gain is already like scoring a victory."

Germain Bonnefis (C2-R2 MAX): "By competing on a high-profile event like this one, which forms part of the World Rally Championship, I am making a dream that I've had since I was a boy finally come true. From a sporting point of view, our goal will be to go for the win in the R2 class and the Citroen Racing Trophy standings. Beyond that, I would love to put in some top stage times, in order to be as close as possible to the Super 1600 cars."

Eric Lafont (C2-R2 MAX): "Once more, the only real objective I have is to enjoy myself! We'll start the Grand National with the same philosophy that we have on all the other events. Our goal is just to get to the finish and soak up the unique atmosphere of a World Rally Championship event."

Jean-Renaud Marchal (C2-R2 MAX): "We know already that it's going to be a very tricky rally, both on cars and on people. The fact that we're going to be subject to World Rally Championship regulations is an additional hurdle. This is a brand new challenge and it's up to us to make the most of it."

Mickael Reydellet (C2-R2 MAX): "We're extremely proud to be a part of this rally in Alsace, which doubles up as a World Rally Championship event. We need to stay focussed and reliable throughout the 320 competitive kilometres that we are going to tackle, but we're determined to give our all to secure a good result."

Jerôme Schmitt (C2-R2 MAX): "Even though we're missing a bit of time in the car, we're actually quite confident, as we really have a good feeling with the C2-R2 MAX. We've wanted to take part in this round of the World Rally Championship for a long time now, but we're under no illusions: we just want to get to the finish and drive a sensible rally."

-source: citroen

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About this article
Series Other rally , WRC
Teams Citroën World Rally Team