Gilbert warms up
for 2016 in Var

Double world champion Quentin Gilbert will drive an R5 car competitively for the first time in France this weekend as he begins preparations for next year’s WRC 2 series.

Gilbert, who won both the WRC 3 and Junior WRC titles this year, will drive a DS 3 R5 at Rallye du Var (27 - 29 November), the final round of the French Championship.

The Frenchman won the Junior WRC crown with five wins from six events. His prize is a WRC 2 campaign in 2016 in a DS 3 supported by Citroën Racing, and Gilbert hopes the Var outing will familiarise him with the car ahead of January’s opening round at Rallye Monte-Carlo.

“I don’t really know the car as I’ve only covered a few kilometres in it in development sessions. I haven’t driven a four-wheel-drive machine for over a year as I decided to concentrate on mastering the DS 3 R3-MAX in the Junior WRC, so I have a lot to learn and a lot of reactions to get used to,” he said.

Var is the French Championship’s blue riband event but Gilbert is focusing on preparations rather than a strong result.

“We’ve decided to race in world championship conditions. We’ll only do two reconnaissance passages, we’ll have less choice in the softness of the rubber and we won’t hand-cut our tyres.

“This means we probably won’t be as quick as the main contenders, but our aim is to prepare for our debut in WRC 2. To fine-tune our set-ups for the Monte it’s possible that we’ll use more time than allowed in the service park. So our final result in the Var isn’t important, our priority is 2016,” he added.

The asphalt event is based in the mountains above St Tropez on France’s south coast and features 14 stages covering 217.72km.

Other entries include former WRC runner-up François Delecour in a Porsche 997 (below), ex-Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Peugeot works driver Freddy Loix in a Skoda Fabia R5 and Max Vatanen in a Ford Fiesta R2.

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