Round 3 in Châteauroux ends with a bang
Last weekend saw the third round of the French Rallycross Championship take place at Tourneix circuit, at Châteauroux, where fans witnessed unprecedented racing resulting in broken power steering, a car on fire and a hospital visit.
Saturday morning saw both Guerlain Chicherit and Philippe Maloigne struggle with their Clio R.S. RX on the track, mentioning some difficulties in negotiating and gaining enough traction in certain turns throughout practice and Q1, with Guerlain in 5th and Philippe in 8th following the weekend’s first qualifier.
With growing confidence in Q2, Guerlain attacked, managing to position himself in 1st following his second qualifier, whilst his teammate Philippe also made a nice comeback in the rankings by finishing 5th.
On Sunday, things started to heat up in Chateauroux. Guerlain and Philippe started in the same race for Q3, which saw them finish in 4th and 6th respectively. Whilst Guerlain was running extremely low on tires so couldn’t fully tackle throughout Q3, his time kept him in 1st place nevertheless.
Guerlain and Philippe pushed even more in Q4 with both winning their race, finishing 1st and 3rd respectively.
Both boys weren’t so lucky in their semi-finals that entertained the fans with some of the season’s most aggressive racing. Philippe started in semi-final B and following some strong contact, the power steering of the Clio broke, preventing him from qualifying for the final.
Guerlain also had to fight hard to maintain position in his semi-final A and after some strong fighting on the track, managed to finish in 4th position and thus grab a spot in the final.
Guerlain lined up on the 3rd row for the final between Damien Meunier and Jonathan Pailler. He delivered a strong fight on the track with Julien Fébreau, defending his sides and closing all lines. The resulting contact twisted the muffler and had the car fill with smoke from lap 3, and by lap 6 the Clio caught fire crossing the finish line in 3rd.
Guerlain was admitted to hospital as soon as he got out of the car and was released late on Sunday. Luckily, he’s fine and we would like to thank the marshals for their quick reaction in putting out the fire.
Whilst at hospital, team G-FORS learned that the two drivers crossing the finish line ahead of Guerlain, Antoine Massé and Samuel Peu, were disqualified.
Guerlain Chicherit commented: That was one of the craziest weekends of Rallycross racing I’ve had so far. So much strong, determined racing, everyone was really pushing! I was absolutely stoked to cross the finish line in 3rd after we faced so many obstacles and the Clio R.S. RX had some trouble after all the contact – I had inhaled a lot of smoke at that point with my Clio on fire and was admitted to hospital to treat me for CO poisoning. I was released late Sunday night and learned that Antoine and Samuel had been disqualified – not the way we want to win a race of course. Thanks so much to the marshals for their quick reaction and to all the fans, the support has been awesome.
Philippe Maloigne said: Once again it was an interesting but frustrating weekend.
My feel for and top speed in the Clio have clearly progressed as I start to understand it better and start to really enjoy when I drive, and I finished 4th after qualifications with a 3rd place in Q4, which, without a small mistake in the joker, could have turned into victory.
The improvements and work done in Silverstone are paying off.
In the semi-finals I almost stalled at the start unfortunately, however, I still arrived 3rd into turn 1 when I got crashed into from the side on my right front – the impact broke the door and especially the rack which caused the steering wheel to lock. My race stopped there, which frustrates me enormously because we had managed to save a complete set of new tires for the final to reach the podium.
Now, our direction is Faleyras with the strong will to perform successfully !
G-FORS Team Manager, Atte Varsta, added: «That was quite a weekend at Châteauroux! The first two qualifiers were tough for both drivers as they were trying to adapt to the new track that we had to adapt the Clio RS RX too also, so it was great to see the increase in confidence and speed that resulted in Guerlain in 1st and Philippe in 4th overall after Q4.
Both boys had a bit of bad luck in the semi-finals with contact resulting to broken steering for Philippe, and a 4th position and a spot in the final for Guerlain. Philippe is really showing significantly growing confidence and speed in an increasingly competitive field, so that’s really great to see. Very good to see Guerlain is ok and the way he fought to defend his podium position was incredible, even when it resulted in the Clio being on fire :).