With Sebastien Loeb an early casualty when his Citroen’s engine broke on the opening day it was left to then team-mate Sebastien Ogier to uphold team and French honour with what would prove to be his last victory in a Citroen. Even with Loeb out, this was no easy win for Ogier, who had to overcome rapid MINI driver Dani Sordo - the leader after day one - and Citroen privateer Petter Solberg, who was stripped of his eventual third place when his DS3 WRC was found to be underweight during post-event technical checks, having dropped back with a puncture on day two. Ford’s Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala were out of contention after off-road moments on stage three, although Hirvonen inherited third in the aftermath of Solberg’s exclusion. Dennis Kuipers scored the best finish by a Dutch driver in the WRC with fifth place as Ott Tanak bagged Super 2000 World Rally Championship honours. Alastair Fisher grabbed the WRC Academy spoils when on-the-road-winner Yeray Lemes was hit with a five-minute penalty for a repeat speeding infringement.
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Crews contesting Rallye de France Alsace will pay the ultimate homage to Sebastien Loeb by reporting at a passage control in the town of Oberhoffen-sur-Moder, where the eight-time WRC champion spent his childhood, following both runs of the Vignoble de Cleebourg stage on the final day.
While only three Britons were in action on Wales Rally GB earlier this month, the entry for Rallye de France Alsace is bulging with home heroes. Aside from established stars like Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier, Mathieu Arzeno will be one to watch in his Super 2000-specification Peugeot 207. Arzeno, who finished 10th overall on ADAC Rallye Deutschland last month, has received guidance from Jean-Pierre Nicolas, the winner of France’s first WRC qualifier in 1973.