Peugeot Belgium enjoyed an extremely successful outing on the Rallye du Valais in Switzerland this weekend, the final European round of the IRC, with Freddy Loix claiming his third win of the year and Nicolas Vouilloz finishing second to claim the IRC drivers' title.
Although one round remains, in China from December 5-7, Vouilloz cannot now be caught in the drivers' standings. Loix's win also puts him into second overall in the drivers' title rankings.
Vouilloz moved into the lead on the first stage of day two, the 40-kilometre Les Cols stage. By winning this stage with an astonishing margin of 14 seconds thanks also to a clever tyre choice, the Frenchman took the rally lead and maintained it right up until the final afternoon. He lost a bit of time with a puncture on SS13, and then concentrated on ensuring a safe finish to guarantee his championship title during the final four stages.
"It's extremely satisying for us to finally win the IRC title after a very tough rally and a great fight all year," said Vouilloz. "We've done our best, and we've enjoyed a very consistent season while trying not to make any mistakes. This rally hasn't been an easy one at all, but we managed to set some quick times and more importantly bring the car home."
Loix, who set five fastest stage times over the course of the event, moved in front on SS15 and won the rally by 4.5 seconds after an entirely trouble-free run: "It's been a really tough rally in which we fought with Nicolas [Vouilloz] from the very start," he added.
"We've had no problems on the event, and it's been incredibly close from start to finish, even when we were going into the final stage. But in the end we both knew what we had to do. The season started off quite badly for me, but then it got better and better so it's great to take another win and also secure second in the IRC drivers' rankings."
The two Peugeot Belgium cars were in a league of their own this weekend, as the third-placed finisher, the recently-crowned European champion Luca Rossetti, was nearly a minute behind the leaders at the finish. Apart from an incorrect tyre choice on Thursday's three stages, the Italian encountered no problems throughout the three days of the rally.
"I was actually meant to be on my honeymoon this week, but then I got the call from Peugeot to come and compete on this event in order to try and help Nicolas in the championship," said Rossetti. "I hope we've done our job well and I'd like to congratulate him on winning the title. We've enjoyed a really good season, it's been a great season, and we hope to be back next year."
Behind him was Peugeot Poland driver Bryan Bouffier in fourth. Bouffier picked up a puncture on Saturday, but also enjoyed a clean drive to the finish.