Countdown to WRX of Spain (CEST)

28 Aug 2013


Category: Press Releases Posted 28.08.13 13:18 by

Remember Frankie goes to Hollywood? Well, this time Hollywood goes to France.


Round seven of the FIA European Rallycross Championship takes place at Lohéac in Brittany, northern France, this weekend and it’s been billed as one of the biggest events of the year. Why? Because it’s a true clash of the titans, with the last two World Rally Champions – Sébastien Loeb and of course Petter Solberg – going head-to-head, in the same type of car.

Petter is contesting the whole of the European Rallycross Championship this year, the first time he has done a full season of Rallycross since 1996, while Loeb is making a guest appearance. Both will drive the Citroën DS3 Supercar: Petter of course in the familiar all-carbon machine built by his own team. Another visiting driver at Lohéac to have starred on the World Rally Championship in the past is Kris Meeke, driving a Peugeot.

Loeb might have the home advantage this weekend, but Petter remains the only person to have beaten him to the world rally title in a straight fight over a full season, in 2003. And now the Norwegian’s aim is to do that all over again: this time in Rallycross.

“Of course it’s not just Loeb I’m fighting: there are some really strong drivers doing the championship all year, who are so tough to beat,” pointed out ‘Hollywood’. “This is one of the most competitive environments that I have ever found myself in. It should be a hell of a fight and I’m looking forward to it so much. Competition is what it’s all about for me.”

The Lohéac circuit is located south of Rennes in France. It’s a technical track that contains a bit of everything, testing each driver’s all-round abilities with some fast corners as well as slower and more technical sections. The track is 1.088 kilometres long and consists of 33% asphalt and 66% gravel. Spectators – of which there will be many – can get a great view all the way around the lap.

One peculiarity is that the gravel section of the lap isn’t really gravel: more like dusty asphalt. The joker section contains a jump, but the rest of the layout is reasonably flat. Lohéac is very much known as the home of Rallycross in France, as it’s where the sport first started in the country, but it hasn’t been included on the international calendar since 2001. So expectations are high.

Petter’s car has a new secret weapon – a brand new engine – which he will test for one day at Dreux in northern France before heading to Lohéac.

“I don’t want to say too much, but we should have more power and we’re feeling super-confident now,” said the Norwegian. “We’ve shown plenty of speed in the past; the only thing we need is just a little bit more luck. All the ingredients are in place now; so we’re looking forward to a big weekend. There’s been so much excitement about this race, and it’s quite a challenging track. I actually think of it more as being all-gravel rather than with some asphalt, so it will be very important to get the suspension set-up right to make the most of that.”


Photo: 2003 World Rally Champion Petter Solberg is eager to battle with WRC opponent Sébastien Loeb once more. © JKR/ERC24