The first ever French ERC round was held in 1978 at Lohéac in Brittany and won by Martin Schanche.
Not many people know that France should have made part of the inaugural European Rallycross Championship. But the event, scheduled for August 5 1973 at Le Touquet near Calais at the English Channel, was cancelled and eventually replaced by the Swedish round on October 14 at the Ring Knutstorp in Skåne. However, it took another five years before France jumped on the European Rallycross bandwagon and, therefore, the event at the Circuit de Loheác on September 3 1978 markes the first ever French ERC round in history. The race was won by Norwegian Martin Schanche (Ford Escort RS1800) in the Touring Car class and by Austrian Andy Bentza (Lancia Stratos HF) in the GT category, while Swedish Rally ace Åke Andersson (Porsche 911 Carrera) claimed the so-called Superfinal to win a living milk cow [sic!]. As not being able to bring “Juliana” home to Sweden Andersson sold the cow back to the farmer – and both were happy about a “good deal”.
Ever since that first victory of Martin Schanche the Norwegian holds the record of winning the most French ERC rounds. “Mister Rallycross” claimed a total of 8 victories in France, Breton Jean-Luc Pailler bagged 6 wins, Swede Kenneth Hansen 4 and Finn Matti Alamäki 3. Three more drivers grabbed 2 victories each, Swede Olle Arnesson, Norwegian Ludvig Hunsbedt and Swede Michael Jernberg [only victories in the main category were counted].
Image caption: Martin Schanche, here pictured in the Ford Escort Mk3 Xtrac on his way to victory of the 1984 ERC round at Saint Junien, won the most European rounds in France. © Eddi Laumanns/ERC24