03 - 06 Oct 13
Categories:WRC, WRC-2, WRC-3, JWRC
Most Recent Winner:Sebastien Loeb (2012)
France’s round of the World Rally Championship was contained on the stunning island of Corsica from 1973 until 2008. But the event’s return to the WRC schedule in 2010 following a gap year wasn’t to the Mediterranean island and its unrelenting mountain roads but to the Alsace region of France in the east of the country.
Alsace is Sebastien Loeb country and it was highly fitting that the French ace secured his seventh world crown on a special stage run through the streets of his home town of Haguenau when the region hosted its first WRC qualifier in October 2010.
With a base on the outskirts of Strasbourg, the rally utilised a remote service halt in the town of Mulhouse on day one, which quickly became swamped by enthusiastic spectators who gathered in there thousands. Indeed, the event’s central location - not to mention the Loeb factor - ensured a phenomenal turnout of fans on all three days.
That could be even larger this year, as Rallye de France is scheduled to be the last of the nine-time world champion’s limited four-event programme and is set to mark his farewell to the WRC.
Inconsistent asphalt roads over a mix of narrow and fast sections, with cold temperatures and rain likely, combine to produce a challenging spectacle. Stages range from vineyard-based tests similar to those found on ADAC Rallye Deutschland, undulating forest roads and steep climbs in the Vosges mountains.
The route kicks off on Thursday with a lengthened stage in Strasbourg itself, which ends near the city’s European Parliament. For the first time a rally’s opening test will also form the Power Stage, with bonus points on offer to the fastest three drivers.
Legs 2 and 3 have been switched compared to 2012, with Friday’s action in the Bas-Rhin region and Saturday venturing into the Haut-Rhin, with the town of Colmar again the hub.
What remains unaltered is the last of the 20 stages covering 312.14km which runs through the streets of Haguenau.
There won’t be a dry eye in the house .........