This regular event in France, the Rallye de Balagne, is important that it has at least taken place. In the context of these days, when uncertainty is more than action, it’s good to see cars moving somewhere. And it gives hope, no matter what the situation in the World is – we may no longer have the time of several months when the whole action took place in garages and E-space.
This is another article with little to do with the event itself. Since this rally is not special in itself, you have to look for some hooks. And they are, allowing you to touch on certain topics.
This is first and foremost what is already described in the introduction to this post. There are many doubts in the public space. Especially about the Monte Carlo Rally. Situations in countries, curfew, mutating virus and a whole bunch of other phenomena really cause a lot of anxiety. Especially when a race like Dakar was hanging on a piece of hair. On the other hand, during those harder and easier months of this year, the motorsport community has learned to handle it quite nicely in the context of various constraints and constraints. Participants do not need to kiss, and other processes can be implemented without fear of red/blue flashlights. So I’m really quite optimistic about the upcoming World, European or National Championships. Those who have learned to manage and find solutions will go further and replace those who find it more difficult. Karlstad fell – Rovaniemi stood up. And similar scenarios will probably happen again.
Next. The French Cup events have an extremely varied car park. From the WRC to the old and scratching through the seams of the Peugeot 106. You could see a not-so-successful FIA R4-class unit and the once tarmac-ripping Renault Clio S1600. These were joined by a bunch of historical class beauties. In the Balagne Rally out of 19 R5 cars that started, the most popular is the VW Polo R5. And it’s really sad that this car is going to go into the background a little bit. On December 8, the Finnish Printsport team was reached by the last VW Polo R5, marked with the last – 87 chassis number. Polo will be driven by Kari Hämäläinen. While the VW Polo is currently one of the better products on the R5 / Rally 2 market, without further improvements, the car will gradually lag behind its competitors. Much like the M-Sport Ford in WRC is now lagging behind Toyota or Hyundai. But both the M-Sport and the Polo R5 have ready-made improvements, only whether the VW Group will homologate them is unclear.
We talked about the twilight of one car, but here’s one model at the dawn of his life. He performed quite well here, in the northern part of the island of Corsica, taking 7th place. I’m talking about the Alpine A110 RGT. The RGT class is much more popular in southern and western Europe for a very simple reason – there are far more asphalt rallies where cars in this class have the opportunity to show their full potential. Although the Abarth 124 RGT that came to the gravel roads with the ERC did not damage the view either. But here the legendary Alpine has shown great results from the very beginning of its existence and reached the podiums where the competition was huge. The legendary Francois Delecour should appear at this Monte Carlo Rally with this Alpine. And the Alpine is driven so fast because the 1.8l Turbo engine, 330bhp, 6-speed sequential gearbox, Brembo brakes, adjustable shock absorbers, and stabilizers, weighs just over a tonne, and even has a rear spoiler skinned from a GT4 ring race brother. It costs about 150,000 Euros. Perfect RWD car for chasing some R5’s.
Well, in the end, the rally itself. Rallye de Balagne Held in the north of the island of Corsica, on the coast, this event had only four-speed sections. One road was attacked twice by the French on Saturday morning and afternoon, and the other road on Sunday. During this tense period, the organizers of the event decided that it was not worth rushing where there was no need. Although, those roads were 28 and 23 kilometers long, so the length of the special stage exceeded 100 kilometers. And where there was a need to hurry – men were in a hurry. The three VW Polos in the final lineup fit into 17 seconds. A winner was Jean-Matthieu Leandri, who was fourth in the 2019 French Cup.
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Photo – Quentin Ribaud