The Vercors plateau had its head in the clouds at the start of this 2nd leg with a full menu of 9 RZ and 6 mountain passes to clear, including a foray into the Upper Alps. Blindfolded by the fog, the teams made their way through Carri and Echarasson Passes on snow-covered trails before diving down to Lus-la-Croix-Haute for lunch and hopping over Portette and Rousset Passes, as well as a 100% land, snow and gravel RZ en route for Grimone Pass. Without further ado, the 430 km marathon continued, taking the whole caravan into fresh snow in Haute Baume Pass, before tackling Miscon and Menée Passes the opposite direction from Monday’s course. Then a connecting leg took everyone on a quick trip through Grenoble and a second go at the Lans en Vercors ice track before heading back to Villard de Lans, HQ for this 64th Snow & Ice Rally. Suffice to say the day was brimming with motor sport thrills. In preparation for the final sprint, the leaders of each category’s rankings lined up in the most useful order, proof of the wonderful spirit that reigns over this ‘Alpine marathon’ and had already left an indelible mark on the participants and their cars. Tonight, the winners’ podium was once again dominated by Belgians: Van Dalen and Minguet (Ford Escort #35) were in the lead for the Historic category, but the final sprint promises to be exhilarating since there are 4 teams who are all neck and neck. And in terms of the full transmissions, the Franco-Belgian Figuière-Pirotte duo in their Lancia Delta #1 stole the show…
Garosi makes the leg. Serge Garosi and Valérie Fontaine (Mazda RX2 #45) dominated the 2nd leg of this 64th Snow & Ice Rally. France’s 1988 road rally champion was the talk of the town thanks to his expert driving, especially his winning performance on the RZ9 (Echarasson Pass) followed by honourable mentions on the two following RZ (10 and 11). Just what he needed to be 2nd in the overall ranking, a mere 4 points behind the leader in the Historic category!
Close call for Van Dalen! Despite losing 100 points on Echarasson Pass first thing in the morning, the leader Marc Van Dalen had only slipped to 3rd place in the overall ranking at noon, and thanks to an almost perfect afternoon, he was back at the top by the end of the day. But with Garosi (4pts away) and the Belgians Van Rompuy (Opel Ascona #44 just 16 pts away) and Deflandre (Volvo Amazon #32 only 23 points away), the battle to the finish line will be intense at the end of the 3rd and last leg, tomorrow in the Vallée de la Romanche and on the Serre Chevalier ice track.
Figuière is on a roll. Double whammy for Bernard Figuière and Cédric Pirotte (Lancia Delta #1) who won this 2nd leg hands down and took the lead in the overall ranking as well with 54 & 75 points ahead of Euvrard-Paquiers’ and the Thoreau’s BMW 325 IX.
RZ10: eleven times zero! This was a first in the history of the Snow & Ice Rally: eleven teams managed to earn a perfect score (zero penalty points) on a Regularity Zone. This morning, during the 3rd exercise of the day, a whole football team of cars rans the whole course (with 5 clock checks hidden along the way) at exactly the assigned pace.
A light in the fog. Since the event takes place on the open roads, like all regularity rallies, sometimes the participants encounter (and are slowed down by) local townspeople’s cars. But when a 4x4 roadside assistance care gets in the way, as was the case today in Echarasson Pass, management must intervene. A warning was issued to the team in question, who will be heavily penalized, and potentially kicked out if they’re caught playing the road openers again.
Amazon, zone, zone…. After their breakdown on Monday, Jean-Pierre Ansiaux and Benjamin Javaux (Volvo Amazon #29) were hoping to have a good day today. Lord knows how they could forget to check in at the RZ10. It cost them a hefty 1,682 penalty points!
Nose in the snow. This Snow & Ice Rally was like a gift under the Christmas tree for Henri Vervisch… from his dad Marc. After winning a beautiful first RZ victory during the first go on the Lans en Vercors ice track, Henri discovered that shovelling was part of the package! Father and son spent at least a half hour digging their Porsche out of the snow bank in the Haute Baume Pass.
Patrick Zaniroli (French/Organiser): “This marathon leg will definitely go down in history. First of all, I’d like to congratulate all the teams who managed to cover all 430 km of open road as well as the 8 RZ during this fabulous day in the Vercors and Upper Alps. And from a motor sport perspective, I am eager to see the battle that’s already in the making for the 3rd and final leg!”
Yves Deflandre (Belgian/Volvo Amazon): “Despite the difficulties we’ve had in handling this Volvo, Eddy and I have enjoyed two of the most memorable days in what is now nearly a ten-year ritual. The whole purpose of our participation this year is to pay tribute to Thomas Sorel, making it all the richer and more magical an experience!”
Cyril De Robillard (French/Peugeot 505 #85): “We had electrical issues during the Trophée des Alpes. But the organisers’ mechanics rescued us by hooking us up to the tail lamps. Ever since, we’ve had to turn the tail lights on before trying to start the engine. It’s a creative solution, and effective thief protection! We’re here for the pleasure. So we’ve brought some special ‘fuel’ that we’ll share with the volunteers who work on this event at each of the check points.”