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GP Week : Issue 102
WRC FRANCE >> Citroen scored doubles all the way at the Rallye de France. The double-chevron team won the two major WRC titles, for Drivers (Sebastien Loeb for the seventh time in a row) and for Manufacturers (their six time). Citroens not only finished in the top two positions but took third as well, and the now seven-times champion driver has scored his 60th World Championship victory, which makes him twice as successful as Marcus Gronholm, the next most-winning driver in the sport. But Loeb and Citroen were not the only winners. The people of Alsace, the heartland of Loeb, turned out in numbers not seen on world championship rallying for the past 30 years, thronging the service area outside Strasbourg, the road sections and inevitably the stages. There was hardly a moment on the event when there was not a delay for one reason or another. This event was the second of two events which counted for all the support championships. The full WRC may have been rounded off, but in the Super 2000, the Production Car and the Junior series, each have one event to run, and in each of them no fewer than two or three drivers can end up world champion as well The Alsace rally turned out to be quite a different sort of event, certainly a far cry from the popular Tour de Corse, which had represented France on the WRC calendar since the inception of the series until now. Many of the special stages were run on wide or narrower roads in the mountains of Alsace and Vosges, with stretches on the neighbouring flatlands, providing high speeds – so the organisers inserted chicanes at intervals to slow cars down. What the organisers had failed to foresee was the extent of corner-cutting, which shot quantities of gravel and mud on to the road. And then for two of the three days, the frequent rain turned the dirty surfaces into mud baths. Drivers reported the stages were incredibly greasy, many sliding off the road. The lucky ones did this when there were spectators to help them on again; the unlucky ones when there was nobody. Nominally this was an asphalt event, so all the four-wheel-drive cars used 18 inch wheels with HERO HOME-TOWN Sebastien Loeb and Citroen locked in their respective titles during Rallye de France. It was a walkover ... Martin Holmes was there DELIVERS 45