Meet the woman entrusted with rewriting Ogier’s pacenotes

Julie Amblard plays a critical role in ensuring the eight-time world champion remains at the front of the WRC field


If you’re out to spectate a rally stage early enough, you’ll see an army of road cars passing through before any thoroughbred rally car comes into sight.

The route note crews (often referred to colloquially as gravel crews), which provide updated information on road conditions a few hours before the rally competitors themselves descend onto the same bit of asphalt at full pelt, can sometimes be overlooked. But as this year’s Monte Carlo Rally proved, they can be the difference between winning and losing.

Sébastien Ogier putting 11.2s on the field on the first pass of La Bréole-Selonnet was aided by the work of route note crews. As Thierry Neuville rued his notes being too safe, a consequence of lots of ice being labelled but not being there by the time he arrived, Ogier gained 16.9s on his arch rival.

Sat in the co-driver’s seat of the plain white Toyota GR Yaris with RNC17 on the doors was Julie Amblard. The 30-year-old has been co-driving in rallies since she was a teenager and will be taking on the French Tarmac and Gravel championships with Iron Dames.

But she’s already been reading pacenotes in the World Rally Championship – as the gravel crew navigator for Ogier and Vincent Landais, sat alongside two-time European champion Simon Jean-Joseph.

“My first time as route-note crew co-driver for Séb and Vincent was in Croatia last year,” Amblard tells DirtFish. “Their regular co-driver [Yannick Roche] was not available for this event as he was also competing, and my name went on the table.

“I had an interview with Vincent and then Simon Jean-Joseph, their RNC driver. We talked about how I work, how I prepare each event and the feeling was good. So they decided to give me this opportunity.”

The sheer number of corner cuts and loose gravel on Croatia’s patchwork asphalt roads makes the route note crew’s job especially tricky; Amblard was very much in at the deep end. But clearly she impressed Landais and Jean-Joseph; she was invited back for 2024.

Iron Lynx & Dames rally testing

Amblard's Croatia audition impressed Ogier's route note team

It’s proved an invaluable insight into how world champions at the highest level of rallying work.

“Becoming a world champion never happens by chance,” Amblard points out. “There is so much hard work. No detail is left behind and Séb is always looking for more. So he expects the same from those he works with and it pushes you to give your best at any time. Also, both Séb and Vincent are at the top of their game; there are so many things to learn from them. That’s why it’s so enriching and I am really grateful to have this opportunity.”

Ending up as Ogier’s route note crew co-driver is apt when you consider what they have in common. Ogier’s start in rallying was born out of winning the Rally Jeunes talent-seeking competition run by FFSA, the French motorsport federation.

Amblard too is a Rally Jeunes laureate; she won the co-driver’s category back in 2018. And the award was handed out by Julien Ingrassia, Ogier’s navigator at the time.


Jean-Joseph's vast experience makes him an invaluable asset to Ogier and Landais. Now, he's helping Amblard too

While being on a world champion’s route note crew in the WRC has clear benefits, it’s no substitute for the real thing. The good news is her competition career is kicking up a gear this year; Amblard is now an Iron Dame, as successful sportscar team Iron Lynx makes its first foray into rallying with a three-car assault on the French championship. Amblard will sit in the hot pink-colored Ford Fiesta Rally2 alongside Sarah Rumeau, as the duo embark on a three-year project to develop into potential rally winners.

“We are really grateful to join Iron Dames,” said Amblard. “They trust us to lead the way in rally and they share our goals and dreams. This is a recognition of the hard work we put in the last years and we feel so supported.”

Amblard has sat alongside Rumeau almost from the very start of the latter’s rally career, which only began in 2021. It’s in stark contrast to Amblard’s path to get here; she was born with rally DNA.


The 30-year-old has been involved in rallying her whole life

“My mother was a co-driver for more than 20 years,” explains Amblard. “I grew up watching her rallying until I was 16, when I took her place next to my dad…stole her place may be more appropriate!

“Even though she was competing at more of an amateur level, this is the main reason why I’ve never had any doubt about women belonging in motorsports and a rally car being the right place for me.”

“We are in a sport in which gender has no impact. It’s all about work. On the co-driver side especially, we see now more and more women. We still miss female representation at the very highest level, Rally1, but I am sure this is now just a matter of time.”