Hirschi - one of three Swiss competing in France - is probably best known for two things: firstly for being a title-winning racing driver, and second for being the cousin of ex-Formula One star (and general racing legend) Jean Alesi.
Hirschi is used to mixing in elite Formula One company though: he had also previously competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours, where he was team-mates with Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean in a Ford GT40.
So far Hirschi has taken part in three rallies in his native Switzerland, but this is the first time that he will drive on an FIA World Rally Championship event. The drive was made possible through the Sainteloc team, which also runs an Audi R8 for Hirschi on the Blancpain Endurance Series.
For Hirschi, the emphasis is firmly on learning this weekend. He doesn’t have the experience to hope for a strong overall result, but has instead prioritised just getting to the finish and gaining more knowledge for the future. If it goes well, he’s open to doing more world championship events in the future.
He’s got two more experienced team-mates at Sainteloc in Mathieu Arzeno and Michael Burri, both of whom have competed on the Rallye de France before. They’ve given him plenty of advice - but he’s yet to have any driving tips from his famous cousin...
“You couldn’t say that I’m starting a new career, but I want to hone my skills in rallying,” said Hirschi, who was 52nd fastest on the Strasbourg street stage. “Rallye de France is a particularly long event, especially the second day with 120 timed kilometres. I haven’t got enough experience in rallying to say that I’m going to score a good result. I’ll try and learn as much as possible and do the best I can.”
Sainteloc team manager Vincent Ducher added: “The whole team will be behind Jonathan to help him progress. He can also count on the advice of his team-mates.”