The most talented drivers in the world met this past weekend on the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya to start the FIA World Rallycross Championship season off with a bang.
The races on Saturday took place under torrential downpour. The never ending rain turned the track into a mud bath and the asphalt soaked with water, causing the drivers and their cars to the test. During the test runs, I felt like I was driving on ice with summer tires!
The draw for the qualification rounds decided that Guerlain and I would start on the same line. A "delicate" position that would need quick thinking so that both of our GCK cars would come out unharmed. In the Q1, I came out came out without a scratch but in 4th, I decided to immediately take the joker lap in order to create space between myself and the "chaos" happening between the other cars. Coming out of the joker lap I had space to do my thing. I came out of the Q1 in 2nd, just ahead of my teammate. Sometimes, "caution rhymes with performance!"
In Q2, the weather forced us to drive technically, while keeping the flow and flexibility on a track that was continuously washing away. It wasn't an easy leg, but the car went back to the paddock with its four wheels in tact, and a 10th place finish and the first frenchman!
Time to debrief. The Prodrive mechanics and engineers preciously gather all the information of the race and the behaviour of the car. "It is always a constructive dialogue. What I felt in the car transforms into technical analysis." Since the first rounds of testing in Silverstone, I have a lot of confidence in the technical team. We have a similar understanding and a real chance to improve the car.
The sun came out on Sunday bringing hot hot heat. Since the time we woke up at 8h30, and throughout the warm up we had a great rythme. We have to be able to adapt at any moment to the changing conditions of the track. The weather is the polar opposite from the day before, allowing the drivers and their teams to make a new mark. I drove steady and efficient, and each time around the track I feel more and more potential in the car. Good news for what is to come.
The Q3 and Q4 went by in a flash and we fought a good fight in the semi finals against some very experienced drivers. An accomplishment that just makes me wonder what great things the rest of the Championship will bring!
Throughout the weekend the stands were full and the enormous crowd of passionate fans lined the track under the poring rain and the beating sun. Us drivers can't thank them enough for undergoing such extremes to support us in what we love.
April 14-15, 2018