Regardless of the outcome, the 2013 Rallye de France Alsace will go down in world motorsport history. The rally is set to be Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena’s last competitive outing for the works Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT. With 78 wins already under their belts, the nine-time World Champions will be looking for one final victory at what is undoubtedly one of their favourite events. Always comfortable on the tarmac roads of the Alsace region, Mikko Hirvonen/Jarmo Lehtinen and Dani Sordo/Carlos del Barrio will also want to celebrate their team-mates’ final outing with a good result.
Based in Alsace since 2010, the Rallye de France has seen Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena secure two of their nine world titles. This year, the legendary crew will relinquish their crown here in what will be their final rally in the no.1 DS3 WRC. For this, the fourth outing of his 2013 mini-programme, Sébastien Loeb will bow out from rallying in front of a highly partisan crowd. Several hundred thousand fans are expected to line the roads, and they will all be hoping for the same thing: see the 79th win of the most successful rally driver there has ever been.
In the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team’s second DS3 WRC, Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen will be looking to extend their run of six podium-finishes on tarmac. “It seems that I have become a real tarmac specialist,” joked the Finnish driver, who was once again struck by misfortune in Australia. “If we want to stay in the fight for the Manufacturers’ title, we have to score heavily with both cars. My aim will therefore be to do at least as well as in Germany. This rally isn’t an easy one, because there are a lot of changes in road surface. And if it rains, it can become even trickier…”
As regards the itinerary, the 2013 edition of the Rallye de France is not very different to last year, other than it has been shortened by around 20%. Held on roads in the Vosges and run twice during Friday, the Pays d’Ormont stage is once again likely to prove decisive in determining the outcome of the rally.