Ingrassia makes rallying comeback – but as a driver!

The eight-time world champion took on Rallye Terre de Lozère last weekend in a Renault Clio Rally5


It’s a trap every rally journalist falls into at least once in their career. I know I have.

Face-to-face or speaking down a telephone line to a co-driver you perhaps don’t know, or certainly don’t know very well, it’s tempting to reach for the most obvious of questions.

‘Did you ever want to be a driver instead?’

We all take such an interest in drivers in rallying, that something in the brain tells you those who do the even crazier job must have fancied a crack behind the wheel as well.

Not necessarily. But that doesn’t mean to say it never happens.


Julien Ingrassia is arguably the greatest World Rally Championship co-driver. If he’s not the greatest, then he’s surely in the top three. What he doesn’t know about life on the right-hand-side of a rally car isn’t worth knowing.

But since retiring from the WRC at the end of the 2021 Monza Rally, he’s kept himself well away. Until last weekend, where he appeared on a French gravel round in a Renault Clio Rally5.

But not as a co-driver, oh no. Instead, the eight-time world champion was suited and booted and strapped into the left-hand-side of a rally car.

Ingrassia’s first rally in nearly two years was as a driver!


Competing in the Clio Trophy, the man so accustomed to calling the corners for Sébastien Ogier was tackling them with Gilles De Turckheim’s voice in his ear.

Was he fast? It didn’t really matter. This was just a chance for Ingrassia to enjoy himself and experience a side of rallying he wasn’t so used to.

“The point was to have fun – mission accomplished! And not destroying the car – mission accomplished as well!” Ingrassia laughed.

But that “fierceness and fighting spirit” as Ingrassia labelled it was still there…

“As a competitor you always want to do better,” he said.

“You think ‘I could have done better at that hairpin, I went straight on, I almost stalled, I could have done better’. When you look back at it, it’s always the same with all the seconds you’ve lost on the stages.”


In the end the WRC superstar wound up 15th out of 23 finishers in the Trophy, but more importantly he didn’t scare his co-driver – Gilles De Turckheim.

“Usually we say to the driver ‘go on, it’s flat out’ and then all of a sudden you think ‘oh yeah, it’s really fast’. It’s narrow, braking in the lines and you get into some pretty strange positions, so it was a truly super experience!”

Will Ingrassia drive again? Who knows, but this wasn’t his first time. And he’s far from the only world champion co-driver to try his hand at driving.

Daniel Elena’s had several shots at it, competing in events as large as Rallye du Var and even Monte Carlo! And how’s Phil Mills celebrating his 60th birthday this weekend? Ah yes, by driving his own Ford Escort Twin Cam on Rali Ceredigion.

Maybe that cliché question isn’t such a trap after all.

Words:Luke Barry