Citroën driver sets the early pace and string of fastest times in Rallye de France
Recently crowned British Rally Championship F2 winners Marty McCormack and Dave Moynihan in the Saintéloc Citroën DS3 showed their pace on the recent WRC Rally de France Alsace by setting fastest R3 times on 16 of the 23 special stages of the 350 km event.
The eight stages totalling 150km on day one were nearly a clean sweep for Marty – setting fastest times on all but the ‘Pays d’Ormont 2’ stage where a puncture forced the crew to carry out a rapid tyre change on stage. Indeed the change, done in less than two minutes, saw the crew only drop 1min 46secs on their first run through the 36km stage. At overnight service the crew had a dominating led in R3 despite the days issues!
Day two brought another scorcher of a day and a scorching start for Marty with the first three of the morning stages taking their lead of R3 to nearly two minutes and well in front of the clutch of WRC Academy Fiestas who were finding the dry tarmac well suited to their cars. However on the last stage of the morning another puncture dropped both of the minutes gained and at the lunchtime service Marty had fallen behind the similar DS3 of Swiss WRC regular, Michael Burri. Marty said ‘I have to hold my hand up. I wrote a wrong note in the recce and it came back to haunt me today. I clipped the front corner and took the tyre out. Such is the level of intensity in these events, you just can’t afford errors like that’. The day finished with two more fastest times however a stone in the power steering pump forced Marty and David to get the spanners out on a road section to effect a repair. The ensuing time loss cost a whopping 3min 10secs in penalties and pushed the crew down the standings to third in R3.
Day three started with damp and slightly foggy conditions but as the fog lifted so did Marty’s pace, setting five out of eight fastest times despite nursing a brake repair which gave him a rear wheel cylinder to operate the front brakes. Not enough to regain the seven minutes lost over the three days but enough to consolidate third place in R3 and 19th overall. Marty commented ‘We came here to learn and find out how our pace compares to both the WRC regulars and the French nationals who are doing the same stages. We have been pleasantly surprised to find ourselves setting times faster than both. What has surprised us is the level of detail and concentration required not just on the rally but in the preparation both for the crew and the team. It has been Saintéloc’s first WRC and they have been superb’
Nicolas Bernardi, Team Manager for Saintéloc, who were running both the WRC entry of Marty McCormack and the French Championship cars of Cedric Robert and Mathieu Arzeno said: ‘We have seen Marty progressively increase his pace and to drive around problems sympathetically yet very, very quickly. I think they also deserve a prize for the fastest wheel change we have heard of! Having also had a national win for Mathieu and with Cedric leading the F2 championship we are looking forward to a good finish to the season and are very optimistic for 2012’