May 26, 2020


AUTOHebdo #2264

Loheac rallycross forced to cancel

After the promoter IMG formalized his new calendar (see Ah 2263), the organizers of the Breton round quickly announced that the continuation of their event, scheduled from September 4 to 6, would depend on the health measures taken by the French government to try to stem the plague of coronavirus. Finally, as we mentioned in our columns, a decision was made to cancel.

"Due to restrictions imposed by the French government prohibiting mass gatherings until August 31, due to persistent health concerns regarding the Covid-19, the Brittany World Rallycross of France in Lohéac is canceled. This decision was taken after careful consideration and consultation with the FIA, the promoter of the IMG championship, the French ASN (FFSA. Editor's note) and the Lohéac Rallycross Sports Association. The health and safety of everyone involved remains the priority."

If Lydden-Hill (Great Britain), which had to give way to Silverstone in 2018, has planned renovations to make its return to the calendar, the 2020 season of the World RX could only offer eight rounds.

Q&A: Patrick Germain, Lohéac Rallycross Director

"There were no positive signs"

- What motivated your decision to cancel?

- As we previously announced, a decision had to be made before the end of May so that our partners know what to do and so that we can eventually organize the event. This choice was motivated by the deconfinement conditions. The sanitary measures will continue to be adopted for quite a while and we will have to get used to them.

- Was there really no solution?

- A postponement would not have improved the situation, because the sanitary measures would have remained too restrictive and would have forced us into a closed session. It is not possible to apply the social distancing measures required on this site. The volunteers would not have been available, it would have been necessary to close the village of Lohéac and be able to prevent the fans from approaching the circuit... There were no positive signs. We are far from the only organizers in this situation. The communities will help financially those who were unable to organize their events.

- How did the FIA and IMG react?

- Everyone understood that it was not possible, even if IMG logically wanted to organize the event. We are going to tighten the bolts this year until 2021. We already have our usual dates: it will be the weekend of September 4-5.

- 2021 will be your last year of contract with the WRX. What will happen next?

- It's still too early to tell, but it's certain that the World RX situation is uncertain. The arrival of the electric has already been postponed many times and still does not generate much interest. IMG wants to believe that it will attract a new audience with new technologies, its presence on the Internet and in Esport, but I do not think that this will help to fill the forums.


"A few weeks ago, SĂ©bastien Loeb participated in a test session of one of our T3s. He was even scheduled to contest a rally in the Emirates with his partner, but the confinement put an end to the project. During the test, Seb told me of his wish to compete in the Dakar again on a prototype capable of playing the victory. There are not 36! It was Carlos Sainz's victory last January that inspired him. In this edition where navigation played a big role, Loeb told himself that he would undoubtedly have done as well."

Jean-Marc Fortin, boss of Overdrive at Le Soir

Congratulations to my son @ Carlossainz55 for his Ferrari contract. This confirms that motivation and work are always rewarded. You have to savor first before continuing to work to do the best possible job with McLaren

Carlos Sainz

Sauber at 50

In mid-May, Sauber celebrated its half-century of existence. If the Swiss structure has been present in F1 since 1993 (Sauber Engineering operates today as an armed wing of Alfa Romeo Racing), its history is much older. Founded on May 15, 1970, it made a name for itself in the World Sports Car Championship (2 titles in 1989 and 1990 and a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1989) when it represented the Mercedes firm before serving platform on the return of the Star in F1.

"50 years in this field of activity is a long time, but Sauber has always managed to reinvent itself through all the challenges it has faced, explains its director general, Frédéric Vasseur. Its greatest strength lies in the people who built it and who ensure that it can always be competitive at the highest level. These celebrations are a tribute to the hard work, commitment and passion for racing of each employee. It is also important for F1 to be able to capitalize on such historic teams."

Kimi RĂ ikkĂ´nen, who made his F1 debut at Sauber in 2001 and who will undoubtedly close the loop in Hinwil this season or in 2021, "wish the best to this team which means so much to me and which allowed me to start in F1. The team already had a great story before I arrived and continued to do great things after that. We are together again, ready to write new pages of this story."

Only driver to have won a Grand Prix for Sauber when the team was associated with BMW, Robert Kubica, returning this season in Hinwil to the position of reservist speaks of "special day" before continuing: "This team has always been composed of great people and it's a pleasure to run for them, notes the Pole. It was here that I made my debut, in 2006, which was the greatest opportunity of my career. I have many fond memories, and winning Canada in 2008 was one of the greatest moments of my racing life. I would like to congratulate everyone who wrote the history of Sauber, especially its founder, Peter Sauber."

On Monday May 25, activity resumed at the Hinwil plant to open a new chapter in the brand's history. The first in the world after...

The C1, the first Sauber built by the eponymous owner, was seen in hill climb.

Oliver Ciesla, General Manager of WRC Promoter

"Four to six rallies by the end of the year"

As he leaves office in late July, the German is making a dismal projection of the WRC for the coming months.

- Do you think there will be other WRC rounds this year?

- Absolutely, I'm sure! We are currently focused on this goal. I am hopeful that we will manage to have between 4 and 6 meetings (as a reminder, 8 races can still take place. While Argentina and Sardinia wait to find a place on the calendar, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey, Germany, Wales and Japan are still maintained at their original date. Editor's note). Everything will depend on the measures taken by the various governments. There is the important question concerning the possibility of moving.

- As a promoter, you are impacted by the pandemic. Could this have a consequence on your implication?

- This health crisis affects us enormously. Our job is to organize events and, at the moment, we are unable to do so. Without a rally, we cannot offer images or feed social media to satisfy fans. As you can imagine, this very long cut has consequences for 2020, but it will also have consequences next year. However, this does not call into question our presence.

- How are you trying to cope?

- First of all, we had to increase our relations with the teams, the FIA and the organizers. In addition, we have tried to offer content on our various media, even if we do not have a live broadcast. We have set up several Esport competitions, the election of the greatest driver in history (Carlos Sainz was elected in front of SĂ©bastien Loeb. Editor's note) and that of the largest co-driver is underway. For events like Portugal and Argentina, we have created montages with images that had never been seen before. This keeps the rally enthusiasts entertained.

- Is the biggest problem not knowing? Everything is questioned so quickly...

- It's actually very complicated to manage. There is so much uncertainty! How to succeed in making decisions today for events that must take place in 2 or 3 months? We are therefore trying to act as late as possible. For the tests, we try to have the security plan 8 weeks in advance. As long as we do not have all the information concerning the possibility of entering a country, of being able to cross others to get there, or with regard to the establishment of quarantines, we do not wish to risk cancel or postpone a round. With sometimes incompressible transport times, we must also be realistic and admit that certain rallies will not be able to take place. If this crisis does not affect us directly, it is certain that it has, and will have, consequences for the environment in which we live. I am talking about the automobile market, but also all the activities that revolve around it, such as manufacturers, the oil tanker, etc. We cannot exclude that this does not have an impact on the companies that are currently involved in WRC. Will they still have a budget to devote to motorsport? These questions arise for the organizers, but also for the fans. Will they still have the opportunity to visit the events?

- Can this encourage you to review your device on the tests in order to reduce your expenses?

- This year is not on the agenda. If a rally is contested, the All Live system will be implemented.

- And in the future?

- I don't know, but let's try to be optimistic, hoping that, by the end of the year, we will return to a normal rhythm and that we can start 2021 with the continuation of All Live.

- Do you have guarantees that the three teams involved in the championship will resume competition this year?

- Guarantees, no. Good indications, yes. With the teams and the FIA, we are in regular contact. The development of 2022 cars comes up very frequently in our discussions and we have no indication that Ford, Toyota and Hyundai don't want to be in the WRC with this new generation of cars.

- During your meetings with the team representatives, what are their requests?

- Very often, the question of costs is raised. They inform us that the crisis is creating a lot of pressure in this area. Historically in motorsport, this is an important subject and it is our role, with the FIA and the organizers, to find solutions. This must lead to reflections on logistics, on the quantity of tests or the number of days that we have to spend on an event. Are there opportunities for one or two rallies, not all, to be held over just two days? This would perhaps allow more races to be run over the period between September and November.

- Regarding the heats, will they all still be able to run next year?

- Impossible to be affirmative. We have no guarantees, because the organizers must prepare their event by ensuring the availability of roads, infrastructure and budget. The health crisis will have profound repercussions on funding. Cities, regions and societies are currently heavily involved in tackling this pandemic. It is not at all certain that they will have the opportunity to participate in the assembly of a rally next year. A sporting event is not a priority. The consequence is not whether we will lose rallies or not, but when they will be able to confirm their presence or not. It seems premature to me to want to define a 2021 calendar, as the FIA wishes to do in June. In this context, I believe that we must be patient and wait until the organizers have the assurance of having all the elements necessary for their event to run smoothly. So far, we haven't lost anyone, but we can't exclude them. It would not be a surprise if this were to happen.

- Do you think that the 2021 calendar should have as many rounds as what was originally planned in 2020?

- It's too early to answer. However, I cannot rule out the fact that competing in fewer races would have a significant financial impact for the teams. It will be a gesture towards them who show loyalty to the championship, especially in this period when we ask them to invest in new cars. Having a reduced schedule could make sense. It would help the teams and it would help us.

- Some thinkers say that tomorrow's world will not look like yesterday's. Do you think the same thing for the WRC?

- I don't want to get into political or philosophical considerations. What is certain is that this crisis will have a financial impact. Then the rules of social distancing and the hygiene measures that must be practiced today may become standards. How will this translate into rallies, I cannot answer. We try to anticipate it for areas like the service park or the public areas on the edge of the stages. It is a completely new organization that needs to be developed.

WRC: 2020 calendar

Safari canceled

Even if the organizers have never stopped working in recent weeks, notably offering videos of the specials selected for the course, it seemed unlikely that the Safari could take place this year. The event which was to return after 18 years of absence will not take place and will appear on the 2021 calendar. The WRC can still hope to compete over a maximum of 8 rounds, the first of which would be Finland (6-9 August). Little by little, countries are trying to put in place the measures that should allow the tests to resume.

In England, the national championship could re-engage after June 30. For this, a manual has been created detailing each aspect to be respected. The start ceremony and the finish podium disappear the media will be limited and the exchanges will have to be carried out remotely. The use of electronic means of communication will be reinforced for the pre-race briefing, as well as for the technical checks. Only one commissioner per car will be tolerated or members of the same family, while the staff in the audience will be reduced and will have to adopt social distancing. In Italy, after having detailed how the tests will take place, the ACI (Automobile Club of Italy) is awaiting the latest government decisions concerning the date for restarting sports activities to publish a new technical-sport-medical protocol developed in collaboration with the sports medical commission. In addition, several meetings focused on the measures that will have to be taken (reduction in the number of events and stages, limitation of the duration of rallies, reduction in mileage, etc.), in order to lower costs and facilitate obtaining the necessary authorizations for the organizers.

Similar procedures will undoubtedly have to be put in place in Belgium where the calendar has been modified and should no longer include only 7 rounds. The Van Haspengouw ran in February and 6 meetings are still to be played after the cancellations of the Tac and the Sezoensrally. After a week's delay (October 1-3), the Ypres rally will renew its Rally Masters category, which can accommodate the WRCs, which Thierry Neuville benefited from last year. Knowing that this meeting is located a few days before Deutschland, will Hyundai be there again?

Andrea Adamo, Hyundai Motorsport Director

"We must act, not react"

The confinement did not lessen the ardor of the Italian leader. No doubt finding that the authorities are slow to adopt the necessary decisions, he pleads for an immediate awareness.

- Has work resumed in Alzenau, Germany?

- It's been two weeks now that 50% of the team has returned. We have mixed the WRC and client competition teams so that there is a sharing of experience. Of course, all of this is done while respecting social distanciations, the use of masks and temperature control every morning.

- The last rally dates from March and the next one should take place in August. So what are you working on?

- We take the time to do things that we continually delay, because the timing was always too tight. It should not be forgotten that there are only half of the staff, but despite everything, we can devote ourselves to what we keep pushing back. This particularly concerns reconnaissance or test cars. The assembly of the Pierre-Louis Loubet i20 will be completed, as will the composition of the spare parts package. We are also carrying out a thorough overhaul of our vehicles. If until then I said nothing too much when there was a little mess in the factory, now I am more demanding, because we have time. The goal is to keep the team focused. I fear that after several months of inactivity there will be a loss of automation.

- Do you find that this made you fall behind on certain subjects?

- It's difficult to assess. Of course, the next rally is scheduled in several weeks, but we have to see how we can organize tests. As far as 2022 is concerned (new hybrid WRCs, editor's note), I think that we have indeed fallen behind, but it is also due to the late publication of the regulations.

- We see that the automotive sector is particularly affected by the crisis. Can we have doubts about Hyundai's commitment more or less long term?

- Now I have no doubt. Since I am passionate about cinema, I am however convinced that what we have seen so far was only the trailer for the film that will be released. And it will not be comical! This is why I insist very heavily with the FIA and the Promoter, but I am afraid that my message will not get through.

- What are you asking them?

- I think that, faced with the crisis, we must act and not react. If we are only in the reaction, it will be too late. It is necessary to take responsibility for making decisions now for next year. This can mean running fewer rallies or competing in them differently. The goal is to reduce costs for the season. I'm afraid that everyone will live in a dream and say that it will be fine ... until we realize that we have done nothing for the future and it will be too late!

- Are you in favor of condensed format rallies?

- I don't think it's such a good idea. This would probably save money, but there is surely more to be done by limiting the number of meetings. You have to be smart. We can also wonder which rallies will still be there next year! I don't want to name anyone, but we've competed in countries that are really in crisis today. Should we return to the program of the heats where we have not already been this year? The risk is that they are there, that I ask for the budget to do them ... and that in the end they disappear.

- Should decisions also be adopted for this year?

- There are discussions, but I don't know what can concretely be achieved. It seems to me, however, that we must be very clear with the races that must appear on the 2021 calendar. By knowing early enough who will really be there, I can avoid buying spare parts or taking tickets to certain destinations and save money. When a rally is canceled, it is difficult to recover the money spent.

In Finland, the Italian manager will call on Neuville, TĂ nak and Breen to defend the interests of Hyundai.


Monte Carlo

Although the challenge is daunting, in particular because of the difficulty of finding sufficient space for the service park, the ACM wanted to bring the Monte-Carlo close to Monaco. It won't be for next year. The 89th edition (January 18-24, 2021) will always be based on the city of Gap, which has hosted the event since 2014.


The development of the health crisis will not allow the Poland rally to take place. The event which was to mark the opening of the ERC championship is canceled and the 2020 calendar will have a maximum of 7 meetings. The competition should start with the Italian round scheduled for Rome (July 24-26). In addition, the Liepaja initially scheduled for May found a niche on August 14-16.

Terre du Haut-Var canceled

While the round drawn in the Canjuers military camp was to mark the start of the France Terre championship (August 7-9), the organizers preferred to give up. Four events remain on the program, which should allow the award of a title and the opening should now take place in Lozère (August 29-30).


This is a video that must have made most pilots jealous. Ott TĂ nak had a driving session behind the wheel of one of the i20 R5s that the Red Gray Team led by Markko Martin brought into the WRC 2 for Ole Christian Veiby. On the same basis, a Ford Focus WRC belonging to Martin was also filmed in action. As a reminder, the FIA has prohibited the three manufacturers present in Rally1 from carrying out tests until the end of May.

WRC 2021

Pirelli must put the gum

In view of the health situation, the Italian manufacturer sees its return in the role of the sole supplier of the disturbed WRC. The transalpine brand does, however, have solutions that should allow it to be present in January 2021.

For several months, Pirelli has stated that it is not interested in the call for tenders launched by the FIA for the supply of all four-wheel drive cars of the WRC (Rally1 and 2) for a period of 4 years from 2021. Finally, the Italians were among the candidates when the projects were handed over. Could a brand with such a track record in rallying (181 victories, 25 world titles) legitimately abstain? The Milanese firm has probably done more than an act of presence and its monopoly position in F1 until 2023 should not have curbed its ambitions. Her proposals were indeed convincing enough for her to be in the final and win this tender.

In December 2019, an electronic vote by the World Council confirmed the appointment of Pirelli as the sole supplier in the WRC. This is nothing new for the Italian manufacturer. His last experience dates back to 2010 with the coronations of Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and Citroën. The men under the leadership of Mario Isola, director of sports programs at Pirelli, then had 12 months before them to prepare. But the coronavirus health crisis has complicated their plans...

"Do I regret that we have been chosen? smiles Mario Isola. Not at all! It is however certain that the situation could have been simpler. The challenge promises to be higher than expected, but that does not scare us. It is true that the automobile market is strongly impacted by this pandemic. This has repercussions on Pirelli, but for the moment it does not interfere in the WRC program. However, we can take the opportunity to think about solutions to reduce costs. For the competition, our manufacturing is mainly carried out in Turkey and Romania and we were able to maintain it by periods. The work on the tires launched in 2021 has been affected and we are considering different scenarios in close collaboration with the FIA to plan the production of these products. I have no concern regarding those for WRC 2 and 3, as we already have them. The situation is less clear for Rally1."

The difficulty inherent in creating envelopes for the rally lies in the multiplicity of surfaces. While it is not that complicated to find a test route for asphalt, the different types of soil require many more bases. As for snow and ice, the cycle of the seasons conditions the possibility of experiencing the erasers. When these already binding parameters are added to a global virus (and deadly I), the development of several tires is almost impossible.

"We couldn't start driving, confirms Isola. Until the crisis led to complete paralysis, we mainly worked on drawing. For the past few days, things seem to be back on track, but I can't say when we will be able to test."

At Pirelli, without it being possible to say that "tutto a posto" (all is well, in French), the concern is not yet palpable. Technicians know that they can draw on their extensive rally experience.

Performance will wait

With the forced break dictated by the Covid-19, it was possible to imagine that Pirelli was having difficulty catching up. This does not seem to be the case.

"To make the 2021 tires, we have a very good product for the Rally2, says the Italian boss. We know, however, that the constraints imposed by Rally1 are much more important. So we need to analyze what changes we need to make to what is already in use for it to support them. For this, we can rely on our latest experience as a single manufacturer between 2008 and 2010. Our tires had demonstrated a good level of puncture resistance. By exploiting this technology on what we already have on the market and taking into account the progress made by cars in 10 years, we should be able to produce products for 2021."

The recipe doesn't seem that complicated, but it does have a few lumps. By focusing on solidity, will performance not be declining? Isola does not say the opposite when he plans to organize the first tests.

"If, at the start, we wanted to carry out tests with all the teams entered in Rally1 while respecting sporting fairness, the pandemic should push us to choose another solution. We should use a single car with a driver who is not currently racing to benefit no one. We hope to be able to achieve it in July Given the very short deadlines and taking into account the fact that all the teams will have the same rubbers, performance will not be a priority. We will focus on reliability during long stages and puncture resistance in difficult conditions."

Rally1 drivers should therefore expect to evolve with tires which are certainly less quick, but solid. If that might upset them, that's not the case with Andrea Adamo.

"There is no point in seeking controversy over the fact that Pirelli has not yet tested, said the head of Hyundai Motorsport. There is no problem. We are talking about Pirelli, a manufacturer who knows his trade and who was already competing before I was born! There are other more serious matters to deal with. Even if they are less efficient, we will have tires to run and that is the most important!"

There is, however, an urgent need, as the homologation of 2021 tires will have to take place at the latest two months before the first event, namely the Monte-Carlo in mid-January. Pirelli only has 6 months left to be in battle order.

Arnaud Remy, Michelin rally manager

"This forced break has opened up new perspectives"

- How did your department experience the health crisis?

- We temporarily stopped our production and set up teleworking.

- In what proportions will this crisis impact you?

- The WRC is not an activity where we go to earn money. The lack of an event is annoying for the rally business in general. All cancellations are penalizing, because a whole economy is at a standstill.

- Didn't this situation prompt Michelin to withdraw completely from the discipline?

- We will no longer be in WRC, but we will continue our involvement. This crisis will have a big impact on the entire amateur sector where small structures are in difficulty. We focused on it. With our distributor, we have thought about how to help them get through this period. This forced break has opened up new perspectives and we will have several rally projects for the recovery, for 2021 and beyond.

- If Pirelli has problems in 2021, would you be ready to intervene?

- It is not up to us to make this decision! We are partners of the FIA and have always tried to work for the WRC, so if no one else is able to equip these cars, we will inevitably find a way. Acting is not part of the scenarios. The FIA and Pirelli did not ask us for anything. Developing products that are both efficient and enduring for Rally1 is not a snap of the fingers. However, it is a manufacturer who knows how to make tires and who also has a great deal of experience. They will be able to be present.

Extreme E. How will it work?

The organizers of the series, planned for 2021 and wanting to be virtuous for the planet, have communicated a lot in the past few weeks and this needed some clarification.

The objective of Extreme E: to break the codes by mixing motor sport and environmental alert, to draw attention to the consequences of human action on the planet by organizing electric SUV races in the most remote and damaged places. If you ask to see it to believe it, each round must allow you to communicate on a specific point. For example, global warming will be pointed out in Greenland, and deforestation will be highlighted in Brazil. To do this, the barnum will move on a 105-meter-long freighter where will house teams and organizers, as well as a team of scientists, who will report on the ecological situation from a laboratory.

And sport in all of this? It will be a mixture of rally-raid and rallycross. 100% electric, fitted with 37-inch wheels and a chubby body, the car looks like a Dakar buggy. Assembled by Spark in Tigery (Essonne), it consists of a tubular structure and four driving wheels, for a weight of 1650 kg and a power of around 545 hp (400 kW). If, except delivered, it will be technically identical for all the stables during the first two seasons, the motor and inverter will then be free.

Evil by Evil

Each event will offer, on a typical raid track, a single short special (from 5 to 8 km), which the competitors will borrow several times, by transfer of four cars maximum. The first day will be devoted to qualifications, the second to the semi-finals and the final. The final format should be released a few days. The duo of pilots must be composed of a man and a woman (see box opposite). An original format that raises several questions, as does the philosophy of the championship, which promotes ecology through a mechanical sport also generating pollution and soil degradation. Questions to which Alejandro Agag, the founder of the series, answered us straight away.

But to find out, it will probably have to wait for March 2021 and not January as planned. Indeed, due to the coronavirus, the assembly of the cars (delay of parts) and the works carried out on the boat (in London at a shipowner's forced to close his site), took two months of delay. As a reminder, season 1 must go through Pink Lake (Senegal), the Kali Gandaki gorges (Nepal), the Al-Ula Oasis (Saudi Arabia), Kangerlussuaq (Greenland) and Santarém (Brazil).

Update on the entrants

Six teams have already confirmed their commitment: HWA (subsidiary of Mercedes), Abt (German preparer present in DTM and Formula E), Veloce Racing (at the head of which we find notably Jean-Éric Vergne and Adrian Newey), QEV (Spanish company manufacturing electric motors and which would have Pedro de la Rosa as main team) and the American references Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing. Announced, Venturi should not be, but two other teams – perhaps four – would be unveiled in the coming weeks. On the pilot side, big names like Sébastien Ogier and Sébastien Loeb have already shown their interest. In the women's category, Katherine Legge or Simona de Silvestro are also in the ranks, as is Mikaela Âhlin-Kottulinsky (opposite), host of TCR Scandinavia and Continental development pilot, the sole manufacturer of the discipline. A list that already has around thirty names.

Alejandro Agag, Founder and president of Extreme E

"It's above all motorsport"

- To date, six stables are registered but no constructor. Why?

- We have reproduced the Formula E model, with a common technology for the first two seasons. The builders are waiting to see what it will be before committing. We remain confident, especially since we actually have eight teams registered and not six, and that we plan to go up to 10. Ultimately, we will have 12, but always with a car each.

- How can motorsport make a difference on climate change?

- I am both an enemy of inaction and a fervent defender of the environment, and I believe that motorsport is a great lever to alert to global warming or ocean pollution. Not all fans are aware of the situation, and if Extreme E manages to make them aware of certain things, it will be a victory.

- Isn't that contradictory to going to run in already damaged places and to move with a diesel boat?

- It is important to work on reality and not on false perceptions. It would make no sense to run in the middle of a preserved forest. Where we are going, the damage is already done and that is what we want to show. Sand or rocks cannot be damaged by an electric car, however, the reverse may be true. For the boat, we did everything we could to improve it by replacing the generators, installing filters and using durable materials. Competitors will come by plane, but will sometimes finish the journey by boat. We are minimizing our carbon footprint.

- Aren't you afraid that the competition will be overshadowed by the environmental aspect?

- It would be a success. What we are looking for is to increase audiences to alert. In addition to that, we need high level competition. This is very important, otherwise we will not give credibility to the rest. Extreme E is above all about motorsport and competition.

- There will be no audience and therefore no ticket office. What is the economic model?

- There will be no grandstands, but a small VIP structure – the Explorer Lounge – where sponsors can bring a few guests. The bulk of our revenue will come from sponsorship, broadcast and engagement rights. Extreme E is a championship accessible compared to other disciplines, of the order of 4 million euros per season (compared to around 25 for Formula E. Editor's note).

Mixed crews

Parity is now

Of the 764 drivers to try their luck in F1, there are five women, and only two have avoided the pitfall of prequalifications: Maria Theresa de Filippis and Leila Lombardi in the 1950s and 1970s. The observation is a little more joyous in Endurance with 39 participants in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alejandro Agag decided to force the teams to associate a man and a woman. Well-thinking linked to the feminist era #MeToo?

"When we validated the fact that each round would have two laps, we said to ourselves that it would be good to have two drivers who would exchange their bucket seats mid-course, he told us. I am passionate about tennis and I find that the mixed doubles offer a very interesting format from a sporting point of view. We adopted this solution without any ulterior motive. This allows us to differentiate ourselves from the other series, the teams will be able to draw strategies by choosing who makes the first round, etc. It is the ideal way for men and women to have the same importance in the result."

Or how to avoid the criticisms made against the W Series, accused of devaluing women by preventing them from confronting their male counterparts. The creator of Formula E sees his desire for parity finally materialize, after years of unsuccessful activism.

"Already, when I was at the head of my GP2 team (Barwa, bought from Adrian Campos in 2007. Editor's note), I had the idea of integrating more women into the staff, he recalls. 12 years ago, I personally funded a Spanish F3 team made up entirely of women. In FE, my training is that we have not managed to have more, while we have pushed a lot in this direction. Unfortunately, it is not me who decides the identity of the drivers, but the teams, who prefer to bet on men."

A fight more than welcome for those interested.

"From now on, women are seen as credibly as male drivers," said Catie Munnings, the rally's hope.

It's up to them to rise to the challenge.

Johnny Servoz-Gavin

On the verge of clinching victory on his first appearance in F1, in Monaco in May 1968, he ended his career two years later on this same track after a failed qualification. Something to make the discipline lose one of its most romantic heroes.

In the family brewery where he grew up, Georges Servoz-Gavin has, apart from fame, no real center of interest. At the beginning of the 1960s, the young Grenoblois bought his first cars, frequented the rallymen of the region and criss-crossed the roads in search of sensations. As a young groom, he opened a craft store when, one evening, television announced the creation of a flight school at Magny-Cours. "Johnny" left for the Nièvre and, failing to participate in the Volant Shell, he started in 1964 at the wheel of a Volvo 122S, with which he obtained some good results in rallying while winning his category 6 Montlhéry twice. He also competed in a few races on the Lotus Seven of Operation Ford Youth before being recruited by Citroën, who made him the co-driver of Jean-François Piot. A series of accidents caused their disgrace, but Johnny was offered a second chance in 1965 alongside Jean-Claude Ogier, with whom he ranked 12th in Monte-Carlo, then 6th in Snow and Ice. But obsessed with the single-seater, he left woman and child to start a life of gypsy, financed by his successive mistresses.

Despite his failure at Zolder, in the final of the Belgian Volant Shell, Johnny attracted the good graces of his instructor Tico Martini, who sold him his Brabham F3. His 4th place in the French championship allowed him to be spotted by Matra and, despite his reluctance to submit to an employer, he left Magny-Cours for Paris. Rallies on Djet, Endurance on MS620, Johnny is versatile, but it is the single-seater that goes for his preference. After a triumphant end of the season, he became French F3 champion in 1966. Here he is, rich and famous, a Parisian dandy riding a Bentley and consuming girls and whiskey without measure. If so far this life has had little impact on his results, it will be otherwise in 1967. Overtaken by his teammates Beltoise and Jaus-saud in the Temporada F3, in Argentina, he started in F2 with a 6th place in Pau, followed by a retirement in Barcelona, where he learned of the death of his friend Roby Weber in the preliminary tests of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the new MS630. A blow of the club which makes it sink a little more in its frenzy of celebrations. A successful Chamrousse hill climb and two podiums at Vallelunga (Italy) and Jarama (Spain) are the few highlights of a disappointing season, which ended in 7th place in the F2 European Trophy.

Redemption in Monaco

Having fallen out of favor with Matra, Servoz-Gavin settled down in 1968 and performed on French circuits behind the wheel of the MS630, winning the five races in which he participated. Luck smiles on him even when Stewart breaks his wrist in F2 and has to ignore Monaco. For his first appearance at the wheel of an F1, he qualified his Matra-Ford on the front line alongside Graham Hill. A cannon start even allows him to take off at the head. Alas, from the 4th round, he was the victim of a half-tree break, but his demonstration relaunched his career. Cooper asked him for the Grand Prix de France, in Rouen. He occupies the 10th place when the burst of a rear tire, caused by a debris emanating from the fatal accident to Jo Schlesser, sends him in a series of spin-to-tail. While he believes his last hour has arrived, he survives unscathed, but this accident will not be without consequences. He returned to the Italian Grand Prix, where Tyrrell entered his second Matra-Ford for the first time. 13th on the grid, he finally concretized by finishing 2nd behind Denny Hulme's McLaren. This performance reinforced his notoriety, as did his performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – still in 1968 – where the MS630 which he shared with Henri Pescarolo occupied 2nd place for a long time, before being eliminated by a puncture. He ends his season at the Mexican Grand Prix where he is betrayed by his engine when he was 4th.

Johnny enjoys his star status. He began a relationship with actress Olga George-Picot, moved to a barge and obtained a residential residence permit in Switzerland. Beltoise having joined Stewart at Matra International, he is without a wheel in F1 for 1969, but he remains the leader of the team in Endurance. Forced to drop out at Le Mans and Zeltweg (Austria), he finished 4th in the 6H. by Watkins Glen with Pedro Rodriguez. But it was in F2 that he shone that year: 2nd in Enna-Pergusa (Italy) then Albi, he concluded with a victory at Vallelunga, synonymous with European title. The end of the season sees him back in F1, but the heavy four-wheel drive Matra MS84 does not allow him to do better than 6th in Mosport, 7th in Watkins Glen and 8th in Mexico.

Evil eye

In 1970, Johnny finally became a full-time F1 driver on Ken Tyrrell's March-Ford 701. But during the off-season, during the Rallye Infernal – an all-terrain race in the Chantilly forest which he finished 3rd at the wheel of a Land Rover – he was injured by a branch in his right eye. His infected eye forces him to stay in hospital and several weeks in the dark, a period giving him the opportunity to count his real friends and to reflect on his condition. He painfully returned to the Grand Prix of South Africa, but his vision, shifted, affected the precision of his trajectories. 17th in qualifying while his teammate Stewart slams pole, he points to 9th in the race when he is betrayed by his engine. It is hardly better in Spain: 14th in practice, it ranks 5th thanks to the retirements... but two laps from its victorious teammate.

Where did the flamboyant Johnny of 1968 go? Endurance races do not provide an answer because the Matra MS650s only play supporting roles against the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512S. Then comes the Monaco Grand Prix. Victim of a road trip in testing, he failed to qualify at the wheel of the mule, and conceded 3" at Stewart's pole. If he has fully regained his visual acuity, for various reasons, Johnny has lost all motivation. A few days later, he hangs up, invoking fear so as not to have to justify himself. His cuts will end at the bottom of the Seine and François Cevert will take his place.

After having organized the first two Race Car Fairs in Paris, Johnny will cut ties with racing to devote himself to sailing and writing his memoirs. After losing his track, we learn in April 1982 that he was badly burned by a gas explosion on his sailboat, in Porquerolles (Var). A few old friends come to his aid, Beltoise even offering him to resort to Production. In January 1983, he competed in the Serre-Chevalier winter round on a Matra Murena, before being engaged in Production at the wheel of a Talbot Tagora. But for lack of budget, he must give up 15 days from the start of the season. The blow is hard for Johnny who, a few days later, suffers from a heart attack. In June, he underwent open heart surgery, which prevented him from obtaining a license again. All he has to do is rediscover that gypsy life he loved so much, living on casual jobs as he meets and meets his needs. It was finally a pulmonary embolism that took you away on May 28, 2006, at the age of 64, in this city of Grenoble that he had so wanted to leave.


"He is casual, flirtatious, gives himself the appearance of fantasy while his true nature is to preserve the minimum of seriousness without which a champion is unable to break through. He can make millions and spend them instantly in a laugh. He is one of the most gifted French pilots. In addition, he is an excellent comrade. With him, life is always good."

Jean-Pierre Beltoise, in his book Defense to Die

His best result in Formula 1: 2nd place at Monza in 1968, still on a Matra-Ford.

Eclectic, he totaled 5 starts at Le Mans on Matra, here in 1968 with Henri Pescarolo.

His last Grand Prix, in Jarama in 1970, on a March 701.

For his first Grand Prix, in Monaco in 1968, he hoisted his Matra MS10 on the front line... before taking the advantage over Graham Hill at the start