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[16-03-2019]
TOUGH TOUQUET RALLY FOR PIERRE RAGUES Photo News
Pierre Ragues has endured a difficult weekend at Rallye le Touquet – Pas de Calais, as slippery, muddy conditions prevented him from tapping into his full potential in the Michelin-equipped Skoda Fabia R5.
 
Alongside co-driver Julien Pesenti, the French driver finished eighth overall, seventh of the R5 cars and fifth in the Michelin Trophy after 14 gruelling stages run over two days. Covering a total distance in excess of 200km, the rally offered a tough test of driving and strategy with conditions closer in nature to a gravel rally rather than a tarmac event.
 
Friday’s opening loop, a trio of stages (Alette-Bimont 22.91km, Crequy-Remortier 14.88km, Sempy-Marant 12.90km), put Pierre at a disadvantage from the start, as he was required to overtake cars mid-stage. In the opening test, he went wide into a field while trying to negotiate a slower car, losing over a minute of time.
 
Ending the opening day in 13th place overall, Pierre worked closely with the team to try and make his way up the order on the second day. Six stages were run, a repeat loop of Bernieulles-Beussent 10.30km, Preures-Zoteux 15.13km, Bourthes-Ergny 13.04km and Bimont-Clenleu 11.75km. Pierre used the final day as a valuable learning exercise, while not taking risks in the punishing conditions.  
 
Adopting different tyre strategies in a bid to cope with the conditions, Saturday saw a slight improvement as Pierre moved into the top-ten with times closer to the pacesetter. However, running with soft compound tyres in the morning loop and wet weather tyres in the afternoon proved to be disadvantageous as the surface evolved during the day.
 
All in all, while the result has not proven to be at Pierre’s usual standard, Rallye le Touquet has been a useful experience for the Frenchman against far more experienced French Rally Championship specialists
 
Pierre commented: “That was not the weekend we wanted, but it’s been a very useful learning experience with some complex and changing conditions. It has been an unpredictable rally, and difficult to find the confidence to push. Things started off on the wrong foot with traffic on the opening loop that lost me a lot of time. The surface was incredibly slippery and, in fact, it felt more like a gravel rally than tarmac at times! We tried a few tyre strategies today to try and climb up the order but it seemed like nothing really worked, as the stages were very tricky to read. I am grateful to my partners for their support again this weekend: GroupAuto, Top Garage, Ellip6 and Yacco.”