RALLYE DE FRANCE – DAYS 1 & 2
CITROËN TOP DRIVER: GILBERT LAYS THE GROUNDWORK
The first two days of the Rallye de France more than lived up to expectations. And although the popularity of the Alsatian event is undeniable, the same might be said of its unpredictable weather and changing grip. However, this didn’t prevent Quentin Gilbert from impressing on the seven stages contested, leaving Sébastien Chardonnet forty seconds adrift in second, with Keith Cronin completing the provisional podium in third place.
Thursday began with the shakedown in the morning and ended with the day’s only stage, held in the centre of Strasbourg. Sébastien Chardonnet, Quentin Gilbert and Stéphane Consani were the first to feature, forming the provisional top three in the WRC3 category. Behind them was Keith Cronin, who was held up by a car setting off ahead of him, and then Christian Riedemann, who damaged his rear suspension after a minor impact.
Hard or soft compound tyres? That was the real question of the day on Friday, with the weather playing havoc with the nerves of the drivers. Conditions would indeed prove to be a key factor when it came to managing the leg’s 116 kilometres of timed stages.
Showing an impressive level of control and maturity, Quentin Gilbert was the revelation of the day. The man from the Vosges won four stages, adapting his pace to the difficulties posed by the course.
“I really enjoyed it today and the DS3 R3 was perfect,” commented Quentin at the end of Pays d’Ormont. “We pushed when the conditions were suitable, but we had to take it easier in the trickier sections. All of which means we end the day in the lead, which we’re really pleased about. We also know there is still a long way to go in the rally and that the rain can make a big difference. It is up to us now to play our cards right to hang onto the lead.”
Second in the Top Driver standings, Sébastien Chardonnet wasn’t entirely satisfied with his day. He bemoaned a poor tyre choice and admitted that his team-mate had dominated proceedings today.
Keith Cronin holds the final spot on the podium despite making several minor errors this morning. A more consistent performance on the second loop enabled him to consolidate his position.
Christian Riedemann and Enrique Garcia Ojeda round off the top five. Although the young German’s DS3 R3 was hit by rear suspension problems following a minor impact on SSS1, “Kike” gradually learned how to handle the French roads and didn’t take any unnecessary risks.
CITROEN TOP DRIVER STANDINGS AFTER DAYS 1 & 2
Gilbert / Jamoul
Citroën DS3 R3
Chardonnet / de la Haye
Citroën DS3 R3
Cronin / Clarke
Citroën DS3 R3
|4||Riedemann / Vanneste||Citroën DS3 R3||+2:11.2|
|5||Ojeda / Odriozola||Citroën DS3 R3||+2:51.8|
Day 1 – SS1: Chardonnet
Day 2 – SS2: Chardonnet – SS3, SS4 and SS5: Gilbert – SS6: Cronin – SS7: Gilbert
Gilbert, 4 fastest times – Chardonnet, 2 – Cronin, 1.
SS1 to SS3: Chardonnet – SS4 to SS7: Gilbert
Stéphane Consani: personal decision