Francois Delecour talks about driving a Tuthill Porsche on Rallye de France Alsace. And a hasty trip from Romania, where he won a third successive title on Sunday.
How does it feel to be driving for the Tuthill Porsche team at Rallye de France Alsace?
FD: I am so excited, I can’t tell you. This is such, such great news and I have so much enthusiasm to drive this car. This is my dream, my dream to drive a Porsche in the World Rally Championship. It is more than fantastic.
You’ve driven Porsche GT rally cars before?
FD: Yes. I think about eight years ago I drove one of the early 911 GT cars and, of course, it was very nice. But the brakes weren’t right, it wasn’t really a rally car. This is a rally car, with the sequential gearbox and everything…
And the noise?
FD: The noise! It is incredible. From the outside, you can hear this car coming and coming. This is what the rally car should be sounding like, it’s fantastic and it’s what the sport needs more and more of.
What do you think you can achieve on Rallye de France Alsace?
FD: What I want is the top 15 and to be at the same level as the R5 cars. Of course, this does depend on the weather, but that’s what I think we can make.
There’s more than one 911 in France, you’ll be up against Romain Dumas…
FD: I think and I hope there will be a nice fight with Romain!
How nice is it to be driving your home round of the World Rally Championship again?
FD: Well, you know really my home round of the championship is Monte Carlo, but this is France and the fans are French, so this one will be really special as well. I know the roads and I don’t know the roads, I did the Vosges rally (Rallye Alsace Vosges, 2007, retired Porsche 911 996 GT3), so I have an idea of what’s to come because the stages are nearly the same.
And you know the Tuthill Porsche team well?
FD: I do, yes. I drove one of their cars on a rally in Wales (2011 Bulldog Historic Rally of Wales). It was a historic 911, so I thought I had to be careful because we were driving in Wales and on the gravel. But, no, the car was perfect and I was able to make a good attack. It was a beautiful car and I have a good memory of the team – they paint the car blue because I am from France. I love this team.
Finally, you’re making a bit of a dash to the test?
FD: Yes. I’m coming straight from the Raliul Perla Harghitei, where I retired, but took the Romanian Championship. But now, the focus is on the test – and my first World Rally Championship round in a Porsche 911 997 RGT. My dream.
Richard Tuthill on the prospect of living legend Francois Delecour stepping aboard the Tuthill Porsche 911 RGT in France next week.
Richard, it must be very exciting to have Francois Delecour back in the team?
RT: It’s fantastic. We worked with him before, when he drove one of our challenge cars on the Bulldog Historic in 2011 and he’s just brilliant. Francois is the perfect driver for this car – he’s so full of character and enthusiasm. And, let’s not forget, he’s one of the finest drivers ever to come out of France.
What do you think he’s capable of?
RT: There’s no doubt we’re going to see an improvement on the pace from Germany… the driver’s a hell of a lot better and I think the car will suit the roads a bit more as well. I’d like to see us looking for the minimum of a top 20 and hopefully top 15. But, so much of that does depend on the weather, we have to hope it stays dry.
Francois brings a huge amount of experience to the event, doesn’t he?
RT: The good thing about Francois is that he knows the car, he’s a long-time lover of Porsches and he’s going to have an idea of the road over there as well. Oh, and he’s likely to be pretty popular with the locals!
And there will be some competition in France?
RT: The competition with Romain [Dumas] could be really interesting – it’ll be fantastic to have another car there to benchmark ours against. It will be a little bit complicated as he’s driving a four-litre RS, whereas ours is a 3.8-litre GT3 RS – but at least we’ll have some competition.
Who’s your money on?
RT: My money would be on Francois every day of the week. Don’t get me wrong, Romain’s a serious driver with a lot of Porsche experience, but this is Francois Delecour we’re talking about!