After Stéphane Lefebvre and Martin Koči, a third different winner took the honours in this year’s FIA Junior WRC: the Briton Alastair Fisher won the French round at Rallye de France-Alsace.Stéphane Lefebvre finished fourth in Strasbourg to secure the title of Junior WRC champion*. He will therefore be driving a DS3 R5 next season in the WRC2.The runner-up in the championship will be decided in November at Wales Rally GB.
Ten crews lined up at the start of Rallye de France with a very strong French contingent. Half of the field were competing in their home round on the roads of Alsace.
The French crews certainly wasted no time in showcasing their talents. Frédéric Hauswald and Yohan Rossel finished ahead of the Slovakian Martin Koči on SS1. The less fortunate Hungarian Kornel Lukacs was forced to retire after an off.
Frédéric Hauswald added to his slim lead on SS2, whilst Stéphane Lefebvre moved back up into the leading positions. Cautious on the first stage, the leader of the FIA Junior WRC grabbed fourth overall, sandwiched between his title rivals, with Quentin Giordano and Alastair Fisher ahead of him and Martin Koči behind.
Fighting with all these Frenchmen searching for a home win in Strasbourg, Alastair Fisher led the way. The Briton claimed a stage win on SS3 to move into second place, before profiting from Frédéric Hauswald’s retirement on day one’s final stage. Simone Tempestini also had to call it a day after he went off on SS3.
At the start of day two, Alastair Fisher held first position, ahead of Quentin Giordano, Martin Koči, Eric Camilli, Yohan Rossel, Stéphane Lefebvre and Aron Domzala.
Looking for a good result to secure the drivers’ title before the final round of the season, Stéphane Lefebvre upped his pace. With three stage wins on Saturday, he climbed up the field from sixth to second after SS12. Alastair Fisher continued to lead the category, trailed by Lefebvre, Camilli, Giordano, Rossel and Domzala, whilst Martin Koči had to stop with a brake problem.
On Sunday morning, Alastair Fisher coasted to his first win of the season, as Eric Camilli finished second. Further back, Stéphane Lefebvre managed his race on the final leg. Third as they crews left the service park, the Frenchman controlled his pace throughout the morning, dropping close to two minutes as he made sure to keep out of trouble. Quentin Giordano took advantage to rack up a fourth consecutive podium finish.
Behind fourth-placed Lefebvre, who was thus assured of being crowned the 2014 FIA WRC Junior Champion*, Yohan Rossel, Aron Domzala and Martin Koči collected the remaining available points.
Thanks to its drivers’ strong overall results, France can no longer be caught in the Nations Trophy standings. Second place will probably come down to a fight between Great Britain and Slovakia.
The 2014 season will conclude on the gravel roads of Wales Rally GB on 13-16 November.
Alastair Fisher: “Winning in France, against all these French drivers, is a great result for us. I’ve always been quick on tarmac and I felt particularly good on the stages here. We had a very good recce and Gordon [Noble] gave me perfect instructions right to the end of the rally. The FIA Junior WRC is very competitive. This win is especially valuable. It’s up to us now to maintain our good form in Wales at the final round of the season.”
Stéphane Lefebvre: “It’s incredible! Words fail me to describe what I’m feeling right now. It was a long and very demanding rally. Since the start of the season, we have worked really hard, spending hours and hours watching video footage. Perhaps that is one of our secrets. We’ll now turn our attention to the next goal. We’ll have the chance to take part in the Rally de España in a DS3 R5!”
FINAL PROVISIONAL STANDINGS
1. Alastair Fisher / Gordon Noble 2:57:06.52. Eric Camilli / Maxime Vilmot +50.93. Quentin Giordano / Valentin Sarreaud +1:21.04. Stéphane Lefebvre / Thomas Dubois +1:42.05. Yohan Rossel / Benoit Fulcrand +3:08.86. Aron Domzala / Szymon Gospodarczyk +17:05.17. Martin Koci / Lukas Kostka +17:16.8
Eric Camilli, 6 – Alastair Fisher, 4 – Stéphane Lefebvre, 3 – Frédéric Hauswald, 2 – Martin Koci, Yohan Rossel and Quentin Giordano, 1
SS1 to SS6: Martin Koci
SS7 to SS18 (finish): Alastair Fisher
FIA JUNIOR WRC STANDINGS (5/6)
1. Stéphane Lefebvre 93 points2. Alastair Fisher 67 points3. Quentin Giordano 64 points4. Martin Koči 58 points5. Christian Riedemann 46 points6. Simone Tempestini 28 points7. Molly Taylor 23 points8. Aron Domzala 22 points9. Eric Camilli and Federico Della Casa 18 points10. Kornel Lukacs 16 points11. Yohan Rossel 10 points12. Jan Cerny 6 points13. Panikos Polykarpou 2 points
1 France 185 points2 Great Britain 67 points3 Slovakia 58 points4 Germany 46 points5 Romania 28 points6 Australia 23 points7 Poland 22 points8 Switzerland 18 points9 Hungary 16 points10 Czech Republic 6 points11 Cyprus 2 points
* Subject to publication of the official results by the FIA