|In addition to his French Gravel Rally Championship commitments, Germain Bonnefis will contest next weekend’s Rally San Marino, as well as the Rallye des Cévennes (asphalt) this autumn, plus a round of the RCZ Racing Cup France at Magny-Cours later this month. The first of these three extra challenges will be the all-gravel Rally San Marino, round seven of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC). The winner of the 2011 ‘Volant 207’ and his co-driver Olivier Fournier will contest the event in a 207 S2000.|
Measuring up to the IRC stars
|Germain Bonnefis has a busy time ahead of him before the French gravel championship resumes with the Rallye de Lozère in September. In association with Peugeot Sport, the winner of last year’s ‘Volant 207’ has added a number of events to his original programme to accelerate his apprenticeship. The next round of the IRC will give him a chance to compare his speed with that of the championship’s regulars. The all-gravel 40th Rally San Marino (Italy) starts on Friday, July 6, and features a menu of 13 special stages, including a super-special in San Marino itself on Friday evening. Although this outing will be a new experience for Germain and Olivier, they have good knowledge of the PH Sport-prepared 207 S2000 which is the car they are campaigning in the French gravel series. They are currently second in the provisional standings, with two wins and one second place to their name.|
Three questions to Germain Bonnefis
|What does taking part in the Rally San Marino mean to you?
It’s a great opportunity for Olivier and me. We will do everything we can to profit from the opportunity and make it a success. Our tactic will be to turn on the speed gradually as the rally progresses. We will also need to adapt to the recce procedure which is different to the system used in France. We will get two passes, but in an ordinary road car. We shouldn’t be under any pressure, so we will try not to make any mistakes on the first visit to each stage before upping our pace second time round to see how we compare with the other drivers during the latter part of the rally. We won’t go flat out from the start, but we don’t intend to hang about either. I am very proud to have this opportunity to contest the same event as the likes of Andreas Mikkelsen who is something of a benchmark. He succeeded in keeping Ogier at bay in Argentina! I need to be realistic, however, because there will be a lot of top drivers on the event. The best thing will be to take one step at a time…
|How have you prepared for the Rally San Marino?
The 207 S2000 is a competitive and reliable car, so it will be up to me to make the most of those strengths. A few days ago, I took an advanced gravel rally driving course and that helped me improve in a couple of areas. Since winning the ‘Volant 207’ in 2011, and thanks to the support I am getting from Peugeot Sport and my sponsors, I am in a position where I can focus solely on my rallying. I take my role as a works driver very seriously: I have a regular fitness training programme and I’m also learning English, because that’s another essential part of being a rally driver.
|Were you expecting a programme like this when you won the ‘Volant 207’?
I would recommend the ‘Volant’ to any youngster. This season is turning out to be something of a dream for me. Initially, I was only supposed to have contested five rounds of the French gravel championship. I then found some partners to allow me to do the full calendar and try to win the title. Peugeot Sport has given a little extra help and has also involved me in its testing work with the 207 S2000 and the new 208 R2. We have also found resources to contest the Rally San Marino and the Rallye des Cévennes, plus a round of the RCZ Racing Cup at Magny-Cours which will be the icing on the cake! It’s a great all-round programme which will hopefully allow me to learn even more quickly, both on the loose and on asphalt.
Peugeot’s single-make rally series: an established feature of the sport in France
|AWith the 208 due to take over soon from the 207 as the car showcased by the ‘Volant’, Peugeot’s single-make rally series has been an established part of the sport for more than three decades. A succession of top drivers has emerged from the competition’s ranks, including Sébastien Loeb, Sébastien Ogier, Gilles Panizzi, Bryan Bouffier and Cédric Robert. It has long served as a valuable springboard thanks to Peugeot Sport which provides the winner with an opportunity to showcase their talent thanks to a programme at a higher level the following year. Germain Bonnefis is the latest beneficiary of the formula.|
40th Rally San Marino timetable :
Leg 1 : Friday, July 6
10h55: SS1 – Sestino 1 (19,33 km)
11h45: SS2 – Mercatello 1 (24,15 km)
15h54: SS3 – Sestino 2 (19,33 km)
16h44: SS4 – Mercatello 2 (24,15 km)
21h32: SS5 – San Marino (6,43 km)
Leg 2 : Saturday, July 7
10h23: SS6 – Monte Benedetto 1 (6,82 km)
10h51: SS7 – Rofelle 1 (15,85 km)
11h51: SS8 – Sant Agata Feltria 1 (14,45 km)
14h38: SS9 – Monte Benedetto 2 ( 6,82 km)
15h06: SS10 – Rofelle 2 (15,85 km)
16h06: SS11 – Sant Agata Feltria 2 (14,45 km)
17h09: SS12 – Monte Benedetto 3 (6,82 km)
17h37: SS13 – Rofelle 3 (15,85 km)
Total: 764.45km, including 190.30km divided into 13 special stages
Germain Bonnefis - Career to date
Born: 1986, October 4th in Baraqueville (Aveyron), France
2005: rally debut (Peugeot 205)
2006: selected rallies in a Group N2 Peugeot 106 (several class wins, including on the Critérium des Cévennes)
2007: 1st, Coupe de France final (class N2) driving a Peugeot 106
2008: 5th, Volant 206 (one podium finish)
2009: 2nd, Volant Peugeot 207, one point behind the winner (one win: Terre des Causses)
2010: 3rd, Volant 207 (led the championship at the start of the final round but picked up a double puncture)
Drove a C2R2Max for Henri Laurens High School
2011: 1st, Volant 207 (prize: a programme in the French Gravel Rally Championship driving a 207 S2000)
2012: French Gravel Rally Championship in a Peugeot 207 S2000 Evolution in the colours of Peugeot Sport