Ireland test boosts Barrable’s belief ahead of France
September 27, 2013 by Paul Evans
Robert Barrable is all set for his Rallye de France-Alsace (3-6 October) debut after enjoying a successful test in his Tunnock’s World Rally Team Ford Fiesta R5 in Northern Ireland.
The car’s 1.6-litre turbocharged engine has undergone a complete rebuild at M-Sport since its last FIA World Rally Championship outing on the ADAC Rally Deutschland. A test over the Glendun stage, near the village of Cushendall in County Antrim, confirmed that the CA1 Sport-run Fiesta R5 is ready for action. Running into the evening also allowed Robert – who has celebrated his 26th birthday since Germany – to test the new Lazer LED lamps ahead of the Rally France night stage.
Whilst Robert’s rallying experience in France is limited to a brief pre-Rallye Deutschland test near Saint-Stail, his co-driver, Stuart Loudon, contested Rallye France last year. In 2012 he partnered John MacCrone, leading the WRC Academy category before gearbox issues saw them finish 3rd.
Robert: “The test in Northern Ireland went very well. We wanted make sure everything was okay with the rebuilt engine, and it was also a great opportunity for me to drive again at night, as the final stage on Saturday in France will be run in the dark.
“When we did our pre-Rally Germany test near Strasbourg, we discovered the roads around Strasbourg were quite different from what we found in Germany, but the good thing now is that we kept that technical information for Rally France. It’s a good base on which to prepare the car’s set-up, so whilst we haven’t rallied in France before, we’re not starting from a completely clean sheet of paper.
“Rally France has a reputation for being one of the best Tarmac rounds of the World Rally Championship, with smooth roads and a high level of grip, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stuart: “Our shakedown and early split times in Germany showed that we were on the pace of the leading WRC-2 cars, so we travel to France with a lot of quiet optimism. Robert’s very good on gravel, but Tarmac is still his preferred surface and sections of Rally France are even similar to Ireland – fast, narrow and bumpy. There are some great stages through vineyards and up and over mountain ranges, and your driving and pace notes have to be very precise as the very fast downhill sections in particular offer no margin for error.
“WRC-2 will be very competitive, but after our early retirement in Germany it’s really important for us to get mileage in the car and try to leave France with a points-scoring finish under our belts. With France, Spain and Rally GB ahead of us, we are very keen to end the 2013 season on a high.”
Rallye de France-Alsace begins with the Power Stage in the centre of Strasbourg on Thursday 3 October. Friday’s action contains six stages (two loops of three), including the Vosges-Pays d’Ormont which, at 21.33 miles (34.34kms), is the longest stage of the rally. Day 3 contains a further seven stages, including the classic Hohlandsbourg-Firstplan and Soultzeren-Pays Welche tests, while the fourth and final day has six stages, featuring the tricky Vignoble de Cleebourg stage. Saturday and Sunday represent the biggest challenge, with only remote fuel stops and limited service during the day. After a total of 20 special stages, covering 194 miles (312kms), the rally finishes in Strasbourg at 17.00 on Sunday 6 October.