The occasion was the 2001 Tour de Corse, France’s then round of the FIA World Rally Championship: one of the toughest events on the WRC calendar, where Puras had already finished second with Xsara Kit Car in 1999.
Jesus was part of the Citroen factory squad, alongside the late Philippe Bugalski in the brand-new Xsara WRC: only his third event in the fledgling machine.
On the first day, Puras took the lead ahead of the might of the Peugeot team while Bugalski crashed, leaving him as the sole Citroen representative.
For most of the second day, Peugeot’s asphalt ace Gilles Panizzi shadowed Puras through intermittent rain, so the pressure couldn’t have been any higher. On the final day the Spaniard held his nerve, winning by 17 seconds as the rain fell once more. Jesus truly had walked on water.
He never quite reached the same heights again, but Puras won 25 stages and scored 32 points throughout his WRC career. At home he was even more successful, having wrapped up eight Spanish titles. He was also the winner of the FIA Cup for Drivers of Production Cars in 1994, which is now known as the Production Car World Rally Championship. And a thoroughly nice man too.
Sadly for Puras, the emergence for Sebastien Loeb effectively put his career on borrowed time. Once the French firm knew exactly the sort of young phenomenon that it had on its hands, there was no need to look anywhere else when it came to choosing drivers. Puras’s last WRC run in a Citroen was in Sanremo in 2002, where he finished sixth overall. But the Spaniard is where Citroen’s WRC success story really started - and he’ll never be forgotten for that.