Fri 16 Feb 2024

Rivals tip World RX rookie Pelfrene to surprise

Anthony Pelfrene ‘has the potential to surprise’ during his maiden campaign of World RX competition in 2024 – that is the view of two of the drivers who have raced against the Frenchman in recent times...

Anthony Pelfrene ‘has the potential to surprise’ during his maiden campaign of FIA World Rallycross Championship competition in 2024 – that is the view of two of the drivers who have raced against the Frenchman in recent times.


Pelfrene will pilot a sustainably-fuelled, latest-generation, combustion-engined Peugeot 208 WRX in the discipline’s top-flight this coming season, having already established himself as a leading contender on the domestic scene – finishing third in the French Rallycross Championship’s headlining Supercar category last year.


Indeed, having only begun his rallycross journey in 2021, the 37-year-old’s rapid rise through the ranks has been one of the hallmarks of his career to-date. It is a trend that does not surprise Julien Fébreau in the slightest.


“I’ve known Anthony well for a number of years, and I can certainly vouch for his absolute commitment to the sport and his serious approach to his craft,” revealed the Canal+ Formula 1 presenter, an accomplished rallycross racer himself. “His eagerness to learn and to understand has enabled him to make swift progress and become a front-runner in every series he has entered, so to me, it’s entirely logical that he should now step up to world championship-level.”


Those sentiments are echoed by two-time World Touring Car Cup (WTCR) champion Yann Ehrlacher, who has experience of going wheel-to-wheel with Pelfrene in the Andros Trophy ice-racing series – and coming off second-best.


“I first met Anthony in 2022 at Val Thorens, in what were pretty unique weather conditions,” he recounted. “The circuit is renowned for its incredible descent, where cars reach some insane speeds, leading towards a right-hand hairpin surrounded by snowbanks. It really takes some bravery to push flat-out on that downhill blast!


“We lined up alongside one another on the front row of the grid for the final and like the good rallycross driver that he is, Anthony quickly took the lead. He then made a small mistake exiting the corner before the descent, which allowed me to draw level again.


“I had the inside line and we went at it hammer-and-tongs down the hill, doorhandle-to-doorhandle – it was such an adrenaline buzz, with neither of us willing to concede. I backed out of it first, and we both somehow managed to negotiate the hairpin at the bottom without damaging either car!


“After the race, I went to find out who this guy was that I had just had such an intense battle with. He said to me: ‘I knew I could trust a double world champion!’ Since then, I’ve always enjoyed seeing Anthony. He is a really passionate and committed racer with a hard but fair driving style. I wish him plenty of success in World RX, where he certainly has the potential to surprise.”

Latvia
Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Italy
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Hungary
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM