Competing as the lone wildcard entry following his selection by France’s motorsport federation, the FFSA, Ancian moved into first place when several of his key rivals suffered time-consuming punctures on Saturday’s penultimate stage.
It meant Ancian, a former adversary of ex-Junior world champion Sebastien Ogier, started Sunday’s final four stages 1m41.3s ahead of J-WRC title contender Hans Weijs Jr.
After a cautious run through the first 24.7-kilometre Bitche Camp stage, Ancian’s advantage stood at 1m05.8s with two stages remaining. When the first of these, the repeat of the Bitche Camp stage, was cancelled due to concerns over spectator safety, Ancian just had to get through the final 4.20-kilometre stage through the streets of Haguenau without error in order to secure victory at the wheel of his Suzuki Swift Super 1600.
“I believed in myself that I could get this result but it really was not easy because we were not always happy with the set-up of the car or the choice of the type of Pirelli tyre,” said Ancian. “
The competition was also very strong and the conditions were really difficult. I stayed alive on Saturday when the others had their problems. It was a case of not taking any risks today and getting to the finish and this is what I have done. I am very happy because this is my first race in the World Rally Championship.”
Hans Weijs Jr got over the disappointment of his puncture on Saturday to take second in his Citroen C2 S1600. The result means he is seven points behind Aaron Burkart heading into the final round in Spain later this month.
“Today was better than the two days before,” said Weijs Jr. “We had some bad tyre choices and lost time with a puncture on Saturday. But we are now in a good position to take the title in Spain.”
Thierry Neuville spun on the Bitche Camp stage and stalled his C2’s engine for approximately 20 seconds. However, he recovered to claim the final podium spot with Mathieu Arzeno fourth in his similar C2.
Burkart took fifth to keep his J-WRC title lead intact, despite a troubled event, which culminated in the German receiving a three-minute time penalty for completing part of a road section on three wheels, which is a breach of the championship rules.
“It’s been a tough weekend and I’m not really very happy,” said Burkart. “At least we still lead the championship, which is not so bad given the problems we’ve had here.”
Todor Slavov started the final morning in fifth overall but an overly cautious run through Bitche Camp meant he fell to sixth where he remained until the finish.
Harry Hunt survived a couple of minor moments to complete the list of J-WRC finishers in seventh in his R2-specification Ford Fiesta.
Follow this link to see the Junior World Rally Championship standings after Rallye de France.
"I believed in myself that I could get this result but it really was not easy..."