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[19-06-2021]
PIERRE RAGUES TAKES PODIUM FINISH IN RALLYE NATIONAL DE LA SUISSE NORMANDE Photo News
French rally ace Pierre Ragues has secured a third-place podium finish in the 36th running of Rallye National Suisse Normande, which has taken place today as part of the Coupe de France des Rallyes. 
 
In conditions atypical of a summer June day, the threat of rain made tyre selection an important part of the six-stage event. The rally was scheduled to cover a total stage distance of almost 104k, but a crash for one of the competitors forced the cancellation of the final stage.
 
Pierre, alongside trusted co-driver Julien Pesenti in the Michelin-shod Volkswagen Polo R5, started Saturday’s itinerary with a trouble-free opening loop, J.M.L (12.30km) and Vallée de la Druance (22.30km) before a 30-minute service. Despite not being overly happy with his drive, Pierre had already emerged as a podium contender, settling into fourth place after SS2. 
 
The second pass of the two-stage loop saw the crew take intermediate tyres with rain announced for SS4. It was a gamble that saw the pair improve their overall position on the ranking to third place with a second fastest time in SS4.    
 
The earlier-than-scheduled end to the rally saw Pierre confirm his podium result - and second place in the R5 category - adding more valuable points to his total in the Coupe de France des Rallyes.
 
Pierre said: “It is great to finish Rallye National Suisse Normande in a podium position and to be the second of the R5 cars in our Volkswagen Polo. It was quite a tricky event, as we were keeping an eye on the weather as well as adapting our car to the stages. The opening loop wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked, so we reviewed things at service. We were expecting rain in SS4, so took intermediate tyres - a decision that paid off. We could move up into the top-three as a result of a strong stage. The early finish to the rally confirmed our podium and added more points for us in the Coupe de France des Rallyes. Thanks, as always, to Julien and to my partners Yacco, First, Sparco and Groupe Polmar. It’s important for me to keep gathering rally experience and results like these, especially in events with such a competitive line-up.”
 
Classification
1. Thomas Chauffray / Pauline Vaultier (R5) 
2. Eric Brunson / Cédric Mondon (WRC) +16’’3
3. Pierre Ragues / Julien Pesenti (Volkswagen Polo R5) +1’03’’2