François Delecour was left impressed by the pace of the cars and the drivers in WRC2 after making his category debut on the Monte Carlo Rally.
Delecour, who won the Monte 29 years ago in a Group A Ford Escort RS Cosworth, had originally planned to drive a Ford Puma Rally1 from M-Sport last weekend, but instead piloted a Toksport-run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.
The 60-year-old performed well, finishing 19th overall and 10th in WRC2 with a WRC Masters category win to boot.
But above all Delecour emerged from the experience with a new level of appreciation for the Rally2 category and the young chargers rising through the ranks.
“For me it is the first rally in a R5, and WRC2, and in Turini the car was absolutely fantastic. Unbelievable,” he said.
“The car is just incredibly strong, but also the chassis and the handling is just unbelievable, unbelievable. I was pushing very hard, the gap between the young drivers is like crazy, who are doing incredible performances.
“It’s still there, one second or another second after each stage, but I have to improve. It’s not because of the car, I have to improve and to learn more of the car at the moment, because it’s my first rally with this kind of car.
“And the speed is so high, the level is so high. I can tell you congratulations to all the drivers, all the young guys [Oliver] Solberg, [Nikolay] Gryazin, everybody.”
Co-driver Sabrina De Castelli provided some context.
“Yes he [Delecour] drives so fast, but young boys in front are so, so, so fast,” she said.
“I really, really enjoyed it.”