Going into the final pure asphalt round of the the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, the M-Sport World Rally Team are on a mission to chase down second place in the Manufacturers Championship. Only eight points behind Citroen, who currently hold the second spot, the M-Sport team go into the rally with the clear objective to hunt down their rivals and close the gap.
Strategy will play a key role in France as the weather over the Vosges Mountains is unpredictable meaning that tyre choice and the information gained from the safety crews running ahead of the drivers will be crucial.
Mikko Hirvonen has considerable experience on this event having competed on all of the Alsace editions of the rally, taking podiums in both 2011 and 2012 and will start on Friday knowing full well the challenges ahead. “The biggest challenge is probably the weather. There is often a risk of rain over the mountains and the right tyre choice can make all the difference. It can be a rally of strategy and you need to ensure that you are on the right tyre for each leg of the event.”
The Finnish driver is also aware that where you run on the road can make a big difference “Road position can also be important. If it rains then a lot of mud can get dragged onto the road; especially over the second pass. More than anything though, you need to be very precise and tidy with your driving and keep focused through all of the potential conditions.”
For the young Welsh driver Elfyn Evans, the Rallye de France-Alsace holds some fond memories as this was where he won the FIA Academy title in 2012 driving a Ford Fiesta R2. Evans comes to France with a good result on the previous asphalt round in Germany and is hoping that he can produce the goods on this event. “The stages themselves are faster and more open than the ones in Germany, but the weather and the conditions can be quite similar. We had a good run last time out on asphalt, so I hope we can deliver a similar performance.”