Citroen Racing Trophy: JerÃ´me Schmitt wins at home The sixth round of the French Rally Championship got underway on Thursday from Place Kleber in Strasbourg and was held in extreme conditions. The crews did battle on extremely tricky roads in...
Citroen Racing Trophy: Jerôme Schmitt wins at home
The sixth round of the French Rally Championship got underway on Thursday from Place Kleber in Strasbourg and was held in extreme conditions. The crews did battle on extremely tricky roads in front of thousands of spectators. Jerôme Schmitt won the Citroen Racing Trophy, while Jean-Renaud Marchal consolidated his overall lead. Eric Lafont completed the top three and claimed his first podium.
218. That was the total number of muddy and slippery competitive kilometres contested by the crews under extremely unusual conditions. The weather, far from being clement, made things considerably more complicated as the C2-R2 MAX drivers took the rally start on Friday morning in wet conditions.
During the first loop of stages, up-and-coming youngsters Quentin Giordano and Germain Bonnefis set the pace, as well as local man Jerôme Schmitt. Bonnefis dominated proceedings in the afternoon, setting fastest time in Hohlandsbourg, Firstplan, Vallee de Munster and the epic Grand Ballon as well as a tenth-fastest time overall before ending the day in the lead of the R2 category. Behind him, Jerôme Schmitt had a strong run to a provisional second place in class. Jean Renaud Marchal and Thierry Venturini were just behind the leading group thanks to some consistent performances, while Quentin Giordano had to retire on SS7.
Rain fell once more on Saturday, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the huge crowds who flocked to the rally. The action consisted of four challenging special stages. It ended in disappointment for Germain Bonnefis, who was forced to retire after going off the road without serious consequences. Mickael Reydellet made a big impression by setting two fastest times before calling it a day on the 36-kilometre Pays d'Ormont stage. The consistency of Jean-Renaud Marchal and Eric Lafont was to pay off. Having kept up the chase, they eventually joined Jerôme Schmitt on the podium. The man from Alsace, having driven an intelligent rally, clinched his first victory in the Citroen Racing Trophy.
Jean-Francois Lienere, in charge of Citroen Racing's customer competition programme, commented: "Run for the first time, the Rallye de France proved to be an extremely tricky event because of weather conditions that made the roads extremely slippery. Our local drivers, such as Jerôme Schmitt and Jean Renaud Marchal, were able to capitalise on their local knowledge and adapt their driving styles accordingly. Once more the C2-R2 MAX has shown itself to be reliable and competitive even under the most extreme conditions."
Following the asphalt of Strasbourg, the C2-R2 MAXs will now get back onto gravel in Millau, for the Cardabelles Rally.
Jerôme Schmitt (C2-R2 MAX): "We're extremely proud to win this rally under difficult circumstances. The conditions were chaotic and like everyone else we had our share of problems with punctures and mistakes. The car was a delight to drive and its reliability enabled us to win here on home territory in Alsace."
Jean-Renaud Marchal (C2-R2 MAX): "Bearing in mind all the different conditions we saw on this rally, the result is definitely a positive one. Our goal was to take away good points for the Citroen Racing Trophy so our mission is now accomplished."
Eric Lafont (C2-R2 MAX): "We really enjoyed ourselves with the C2-R2 MAX but we also suffered with the conditions on this extremely difficult rally. The experience we gained made it well worth the trip and we prioritised just getting to the finish. In the end our approach turned out to be the right one and we're absolutely delighted with the result."