Pierre Ragues finished the 61st edition of Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais in tenth place overall, and eighth place in the R5 class, competing against an impressive entry list featuring numerous specialist crews and leading contenders.
The opening round of the French Tarmac Championship was always set to be a competitive event. For Pierre and co-driver Julien Pesenti to leave with a strong top-ten finish is testament to their strength as a rally crew and the performance of the Michelin-equipped Volkswagen Polo R5.
The two-day, 11-stage rally, also part of the Coupe de France des Rallyes, was held in nice, dry conditions, and allowed Pierre to continue his accumulation of experience in one of French rallying’s toughest events.
Friday’s itinerary covered a repeat loop of Frencq-Widehem, Bernieulles-Parenty and Hucqueliers-Inxent. Pierre was regularly inside the top-ten, but he went off in the final stage of the opening loop, losing 40 seconds of time. The car was OK and the Racing Services team gave it a thorough check during lunchtime service. A trouble-free afternoon saw Pierre finish the opening day in 11th overall.
Pierre was determined to bounce during Saturday’s five stages: Roussent-Buire le Sec, Remortier-Embry, Lebiez-Crequy, Crequy-Rimboval and Zoteux-Preures. A fifth fastest time in SS8 was the highlight of the final day. Despite going wide in the subsequent SS9, stalling the engine and having to reverse back onto the stage, Pierre was still on course for a top-ten result. SS10 was shortened due to road works, but with tenth place secured, Pierre didn’t take any unnecessary risks on the final stage.
Pierre said: “We have seen an impressive calibre of competitors in this rally, which is to be expected as the delayed opening round of the French Tarmac Championship. It has been another amazing experience to compete against some of the best drivers in the championship, and to have such a high benchmark for our performance. The rally was enjoyable, even if we had a couple of moments over the two days which hampered our end result. The off in SS3 lost us a lot of time; I was just thankful that we didn’t sustain any significant damage, and we could continue. The comprehensive work of the Racing Services team was much appreciated as we aimed to bounce back. Unfortunately, we lost another 20 seconds today after going wide in SS9, but thankfully it didn’t affect our position. From there, we just concentrated on making it to the end of the rally and confirming our eighth place in the R5 class. Considering the level of competition this weekend, I’ll take that. Thanks, as always to my partners and supporters: Yacco, First, Sparco and Groupe Polmar.”