Ten crews had been entered for this, the fourth round of the season. The rally saw the return of local hero Christian Riedemann, alongside co-driver Michael Wenzel, and the WRC debuts of Eric Camilli and Mohammed Al Mutawa, two drivers taken from Citroën Racing’s talent finding programmes.
At his home round, Christian Riedemann got off to the best start on Friday morning. Leader throughout the first loop, the German lost ground to the French pair of Stéphane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli after collecting a twenty-second penalty (for arriving late at the midday service exit time control).
On his first appearance in the World Championship, and having competed fewer than twenty rallies in his young career, Eric Camilli made a very strong impression as he took the lead after SS5. However, the following morning, the Frenchman went off the road during the first run on the 42 kilometre-long Panzerplatte Lang (SS10). Stéphane Lefebvre reclaimed first place, ahead of Christian Riedemann, Martin Koci, Quentin Giordano and Alastair Fisher.
The top two continued to extend their lead over the rest of the field, whilst Martin Koci also went off on Panzerplatte Lang 2 (SS14). Stéphane Lefebvre ended day two almost a minute clear of Christian Riedemann in second. Quentin Giordano and Alastair Fisher were over four minutes back after picking up punctures. Simone Tempestini, Kornel Lukacs, Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Federico Della Casa rounded off the overall standings.
The top of the leaderboard remained unchanged after Sunday’s final leg. Stéphane Lefebvre controlled from the front to secure a third win in four events. He finished ahead of Christian Riedemann. Quentin Giordano grabbed a third consecutive podium finish as held off Alastair Fisher, Simone Tempestini and Kornel Lukacs to take third place. Mohammed Al Mutawaa and Federico Della Casa retired with the finish in sight.
Thanks to this new win, Stéphane Lefebvre has strengthened his position at the top of FIA Junior WRC standings. He is now 29 points clear of Martin Koci. Quentin Giordano, Christian Riedemann and Alastair Fisher are bunched together, less than ten points behind Koci. In the Nations Trophy, France leads from Slovakia, Germany and Great Britain.
The next round is the Rallye de France Alsace, due to be held on 2-5 October.
Stéphane Lefebvre: “I’m very pleased to have taken my third win in four events. This was my first rally in the DS3 R3 on tarmac. We were among the frontrunners from the word go. And when we moved into the lead, we were able to control the gap. It was important to pick up some points after our mistake in Finland.”
Christian Riedemann: “I feel a little bit frustrated by this result. We were too cautious on Saturday on Panzerplatte by driving the stage without checking the splits. And it was difficult to make up the time lost after we were handed the twenty-second penalty for arriving at the time control late after changing the gearbox. However, we showed that we could compete with Stéphane Lefebvre. I hope I can take my revenge at the next round in France.”
Quentin Giordano: “This is our third podium running in the Junior WRC. We drove well to hold off our main rivals. I’m very pleased with this result, which enables us to consolidate our third position in the championship. I’m really looking forward to the next round, at home, at the Rallye de France.”