Friday | 26 Sep 2014

France countdown: the stages

Organisers have rung the changes for the fifth edition of Rallye de France - Alsace (2 - 5 October) with more than half the competitive distance never previously used.

Historic Strasbourg, nestled on the German border between the Vosges mountains and the Black Forest, remains the hub but just two of the 10 stage routes are the same as last year.

The second all-asphalt round of the season lies just 200km from the first – ADAC Rallye Deutschland – but the character is markedly different. Fast, flowing forest roads and wide mountain passes are the hallmarks, and although vineyard tracks are common to both events, those in France are wider.

The pace will be fast and furious as this is the shortest round of the season. Just 303.63km of action across 18 stages mean there will be little margin for error.

After Thursday night’s start ceremony in central Strasbourg, Friday’s route takes crews south into the Bas-Rhin and Vosges for a loop of three stages covered twice. It includes the longest test of the weekend.

Stages pass through pretty Alsatian villages

The leg ends with the popular Strasbourg street stage, which ends outside the European Parliament, which has previously opened the event.

Saturday journeys further south and is the longest leg of the rally. Just a 15-minute remote service in Colmar splits two loops of identical stages before a street test in Mulhouse, where a new route awaits.

The final leg is centred on Saverne, north-west of Strasbourg, replacing the traditional last day loop around Sébastien Loeb’s home town of Haguenau.

Both stages are new, contrasting technical and fast sections through forests. It is the shortest day but could provide a sting in the tail. The rally ends with the Power Stage through Forêt de Saverne, where bonus points will be on offer to the fastest three drivers, before the finish at the Zenith service park.

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