6 October 2014
Rallye de France: Lefebvre secures JWRC crown
Stéphane Lefebvre is the new FIA Junior WRC champion after producing a measured performance on Rallye de France-Alsace.
Finishing fourth on the Rallye de France-Alsace was enough for Stéphane Lefebvre to become the 2014 Junior WRC champion, as the class celebrated its third different winner of the season.
Alastair Fisher added his name to those of Lefebvre and Martin Koči by triumphing on the French event, coming out on top of the ten crews who lined up at the start, with a very strong French contingent competing in their home round on the roads of Alsace.
“Winning in France, against all these French drivers, is a great result for us,” the Briton admitted, “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.”
The French crews wasted no time in showcasing their talents as Frédéric Hauswald and Yohan Rossel finished ahead of Slovakian Koči on SS1. Hauswald added to his slim lead on SS2, whilst Lefebvre moved into the leading positions after exercising caution on the first stage.
Fighting with the Frenchmen searching for a home win, Fisher claimed a stage win on SS3 to move into second place overall, before profiting from Hauswald's retirement on day one's final stage.
At the start of day two, Fisher held first position, ahead of Quentin Giordano, Koči, Eric Camilli, Rossel, Lefebvre and Aron Domzala but, looking for a good result to secure the drivers' title before the final round of the season, Lefebvre upped his pace. With three stage wins on Saturday, he climbed from sixth to second by SS12. Fisher continued to lead the category, however, followed by Lefebvre, Camilli, Giordano, Rossel and Domzala, whilst Koči had to stop with a brake problem.
Resisting the pressure, Fisher coasted to his first win of the season on Sunday, coming home ahead of Camilli, while Lefebvre managed his pace on the final leg, dropping to fourth overall as he conceded close to two minutes in order to keep himself out of trouble. Giordano took advantage to rack up a fourth consecutive podium finish. Behind Lefebvre, Rossel, Domzala and Koči collected the remaining available points.
“It's incredible!” Lefebvre exclaimed, “Words fail 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 as we'll have the chance to take part in the Rally de España in a DS3 R5!”
Thanks to its drivers' strong overall results, France can no longer be caught in the Nations Trophy standings, while second place will now come down to a fight between Great Britain and Slovakia when the season ends on the gravel roads of Wales Rally GB.
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