Saturday | 11 Dec 2021

Chicherit: Turns out I wasn’t so rusty after all…

Guerlain Chicherit confessed to feeling ‘apprehensive’ ahead of his FIA World Rallycross Championship return at the Nürburgring last month, fearing that it would take him some time to reacclimatise to the cut-and-thrust of the action – but after finishing fifth in the final on the second day, he acknowledged that maybe he ‘wasn’t so rusty after all...’

Guerlain Chicherit confessed to feeling ‘apprehensive’ ahead of his FIA World Rallycross Championship return at the Nürburgring last month, fearing that it would take him some time to reacclimatise to the cut-and-thrust of the action – but after finishing fifth in the final on the second day, he acknowledged that maybe he ‘wasn’t so rusty after all...’

Chicherit made 32 appearance at the international pinnacle of the discipline between 2015 and 2019, but having not piloted Unkorrupted’s Renault Mégane in more than two years, he was unsure what to expect heading to World RX of Germany. As it transpired, he need not have worried – it was like he had never been away.

On an icy and slippery track surface, the 43-year-old Frenchman went fifth-quickest amongst the 14 high-calibre protagonists in Q1 on Saturday – posting the fastest lap of the session in the process – en route to seventh in the intermediate classification, only to miss out on a berth in the final by just over a second due to a misguided joker strategy.

The next day, he was again firmly in the mix throughout the qualifiers, and this time, he did progress through to the final, taking the chequered flag third in his semi-final behind KYB EKS JC pairing Johan Kristoffersson and Enzo Ide.

Despite admitting to being mindful of not wanting to get involved in the title duel between Kristoffersson and Timmy Hansen just ahead of him in the final, Chicherit nonetheless raced well – and now he is looking forward to GCK Motorsport’s eagerly-anticipated comeback with the Lancia Delta Evo-e for the inaugural campaign of World RX’s new electric era in 2022.

“It was great being able to join this season-clincher event and to sign off an incredible era of World RX with a fifth place,” enthused the four-time World Freeriding Champion. “Given the last-minute nature of my participation, I didn’t really have chance to prepare for the weekend properly so I was a little apprehensive, but when I saw that my pace wasn’t too bad, that helped to motivate me and reassured me that maybe I wasn’t so rusty after all...

“The biggest issue were the starts. When the track was dry, our launches were great, but when it was raining and the grip level was lower, we couldn’t replicate that. That was a bit of an Achilles’ heel for us at the weekend, and we also broke seven or eight wishbones over the kerbs, which affected the behaviour of the car and made it difficult to drive. Otherwise, our speed was good, and when I had a clear track in front of me, my lap times were pretty decent.

“On Saturday, we got the joker strategy wrong in the semi-final, which cost us the position to [Krisztián] Szabó. We could perhaps also have done a bit more in Sunday’s final, but at the same time, I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks. Johan and Timmy were fighting for the title, and you need to have respect for that because I know how much hard work is involved. There was a lot at stake for them both, and I really didn’t want to interfere in their battle.

“Overall, I’m happy with the way the weekend went and I showed that I can still challenge even if everything wasn’t perfect. Now, I’m super excited for the future, with GCK Motorsport and the Delta Evo-e taking on rallycross in 2022.”