WRC: Rallye de France-Alsace report
Unlike the car’s debut at Rallye Deutschland in August, there was no fairytale finish for Tuthill’s Porsche 997 GT3 RS-based RGT car on its latest WRC outing. However, with François Delecour at the helm, there was still much to smile about at Rally de France-Alsace.
Day one started in promising fashion, with Delecour setting the 18th fastest time on stage one, just one second down on fellow RGT class rival, Romain Dumas, with the Porsche factory driver enjoying the benefits of a 997 GT3 RS 4.0 compared to Tuthill’s 3.8-litre 911.
After dropping away from Dumas during the rest of day one’s opening loop, Delecour made some minor suspension adjustments that improved the Frenchman’s pace as the Tuthill 997 RGT rounded off the day 31.8 seconds behind Dumas.
The second day of Rallye de France opened with Dumas once again besting Delecour in the Tuthill entry, however the brace of 20th places on SS8 and SS9 were still impressive improvements over the 997’s debut performance across the border in Germany.
With SS10 bringing about another 20th place, this time Delecour beating Dumas by 2.2 seconds on the 21.5-kilometre test from Pays Welche to Riquewihr, hopes were high in the Tuthill camp as the event entered its second half.
Unfortunately, for the UK-based team, Delecour narrowly clipped a chicane marker on the 11th stage. Contact was minor but it was enough to damage the front-mounted radiator on the 997 RGT, forcing the car into retirement.
Under Rally2 regulations, Tuthill decided to re-enter Delecour on day three – a decision the Frenchman was overawed at: “Any time driving this car is a good time. I have enjoyed so much driving the Porsche,” the WRC legend explained. “This was my dream to bring this car to a World Rally Championship.”
Due to missing four stages, a 20-minutes time penalty (five minutes for every non-completed test) was added to Delecour’s time, dropping the Tuthill Porsche from 20th overall to 46th.
Delecour drove immaculately on Sunday’s stages though, besting Dumas across all four tests, eventually finishing 37th overall. What’s more, removing the 20-minute penalty, moved Delecour just 2.7 seconds behind Dumas, proof that the Tuthill car is continually improving in the face of more powerful opposition.