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GP Week : Issue 6
50 years of the British Rally Championship The Fastest Ambassador REIGNING FIA European rally champion Simon Jean-Joseph, a former Ford and Subaru works driver, comes to Britain as part of a European- wide sales tour, promoting the new Citroen Sports entry-level C2 R2 Max rally car. The 38-year-old will contest the opening round of the British championship, held this weekend in North England. “The Pirelli Rally will be a big challenge for me,” he told GPWeek. “It is only the third rally in my career in Britain, and my first time in the Kielder forest, about which I have heard many worrying stories.” This will be the second out of eight rallies planned for Simon this year. The first was the Eger Rally in Hungary, where in foggy and muddy conditions he won his class, beating the best Super 1600 cars in the country. “That event was very interesting. In dry conditions the Max was not so quick as the S1600s, but when it was slippery it was quicker. Finally our little car won its class and was the best two-wheel drive car on the event.” Like its predecessor, the basic C2 R2 model which has been used on rallies since the end of 2006, the C2 R2 Max has been homologated by the FIA under the new Group R rules, and now has more modifications permitted under the class 2 regulations. “Compared with the basic R2 model it has better brakes, better suspension, closer gear ratios, and, most importantly, better steering.” The Frenchman, who hails from the West Indian island of Martinique, and who won the European title in both 2003 and 2007, explained that his “job is to show people how this is the most budget friendly car in the category, something in which even the least experienced driver can drive well. And how it is the best-performing rally car on the market for the price.” Well, is he a pop star on a European tour, a glorified salesman or a development engineer? “You must ask my bosses, but I can tell you I have been told to say I am an ambassador for Citroen!” Citroen’s European Champ is in town to tackle some BRC rounds as part of what is likely to be a lightening quick promotional tour 40