Organisers of Rallye de France-Alsace (3 - 5 October) have announced major changes to the final all-asphalt round of the season.
The rally, round 11 of 13, continues to be based in Strasbourg in the north-east of the country. But almost half the route has never been used before and it is a pure sprint with little more than 300km of stages.
While the event still visits the Vosges mountains and winding roads through the Alsatian forests, Sunday’s final leg around the town of Saverne is totally new. Saturday’s schedule also features two new stages, including a completely revised street test in Mulhouse.
Strasbourg’s stage outside the European Parliament, where Sébastien Ogier sealed his maiden world title on opening night last year, has been moved back to Friday evening and there will no curtain-raising Thursday night test.
To add to fans’ entertainment, competitors will recce the 4.67km city test in their rally cars immediately before the action begins.
The 18 stages cover just 303km, eclipsing Rally Australia as the shortest round of the year. Just two years ago the event contained more than 404km of action.
French Motor Sports Federation president Nicolas Deschaux said it was a point of honour to come up with route innovations each year.
“We decided to explore new avenues for 2014. The Rally de France organisation team has given the route and the event schedule a major revamp. This includes exploring new territory by bringing the rally to new sectors in Alsace,” he said.
“There are new challenges for the drivers from a sporting point of view, which will give them fresh thrills in stages that have never been included in the rally before,” added Deschaux.