Rallycross goes back to its roots at Loheac
The FIA European Rallycross Championship returns to Loheac, birthplace of the sport in France.
This weekend the FIA European Rallycross Championship heads to Loheac, a small French village with a long rallycross tradition.
While the seventh round of the 2013 Rallycross Championship season will take place at a different site within Loheac, it marks a spiritual return to the sport’s French birthplace. It is a return that is long overdue – despite continuing to host rounds of the French national championship, Loheac has not played host to a round of the European championship since 2001.
Loheac’s long absence from the calendar means the track is a new one to the majority of this weekend’s entrants. As a result, the majority of competitors have visited Loheac over the course of the season, testing their cars and learning the configuration. Hansen Motorsport rookie Timmy Hansen reported back after his exploratory session.
“Loheac starts with a 90 degree right and the track’s very wide there, with a really short apex,” he said. “It’s quite a fast corner but it’s third or fourth gear and leads you onto a really fast left, in fifth gear with just a tiny lift, onto gravel. It’s like dustier tarmac, not like proper gravel, and you still have good grip through the left-hander. After the left you are going up to a crest, but it’s not a jump or anything, and you brake right on the top, getting your speed down for the hairpin right.
“After the hairpin it opens up to a long back straight with a small right kink that is really crucial to get perfect for the speed on the straight,” Hansen continued. “At the end of it you come into a fifth gear right-hander next to the joker lap; here we are carrying a lot of speed into the corner. You have to put the car a little bit sideways and then it tightens up at the end, into the slowest part of the lap. A third gear left-hander which is always really, really slippery and difficult to get right, then a small acceleration down into a second gear for the very, very long last corner that goes back onto the start finish straight. The track is quite flat; the only small jump is in the joker lap section. All the corners lead into each other, and there is lots of grip so you can change your lines. It’s a lot like a tarmac circuit.”
Of additional interest will be the presence of rally superstar Sebastien Loeb, one of the wildcard entrants at Loheac this weekend. Loeb will be taking part behind the wheel of a Citroën DS3 run by Hervé “Knapick” Lemonnier. “Loheac is the temple of rallycross”, Loeb said when announcing his rallycross return earlier this year. “This is a well-known event with a very big crowd. In a sportive side, this is also a very tough race.”
Another famous face lining up to take part in the Loheac round of the FIA European Rallycross Championship is Kris Meeke, driving a Peugeot 208 for Albatec Racing Ltd. It will be the Briton’s first time behind the wheel of a rallycross SuperCar. “I’m blown away, I don’t think I’ve ever driven a supercar with this amount of horsepower, it’s just incredible,” said Meeke. “Loheac gives me the perfect chance to put myself up against the best in the business in one of the best cars in the business.”
Defending champion Timur Timerzyanov arrives in Loheac as leader of the European Rallycross Championship; with 120 points accrued so far, the Russian racer has a four-point lead over second-placed Timmy Hansen of Sweden. Third in the standings is Frenchman Davy Jeanney, on 99 points. Further down the order, Tanner Foust lies in eighth place on 50 points, while Petter Solberg is in tenth with 43 points.