The persistent rain that has fallen in Noumea over the last week may be playing into the hands of experienced French driver Jean-Louis Leyraud, and his countrymen Patrick Christian and Patrick Yanai.
The past few years have provided dry conditions for Rallye de Nouvelle Caledonie. But with wet weather predicted to continue into the weekend, local knowledge will give the three Frenchman an extra edge. And Leyraud has set his sights on the inaugural APRC Pacific Cup, teaming up with Possum Bourne Motorsport for rallies New Caledonia, Canberra and Whangarei.
“I am looking forward for the Pacific Cup. This is why I asked Possum Bourne (Motorsport) to do my service and to be in the team. I know they are very professional and I will have no problems. (In New Caledonia) the first day stages are fast and narrow….(the roads are) very slippery…even if it is dry”.
Leyraud will run his PBMS-built 2005 spec-C Subaru, and has a wealth of experience at the Pacific Cup rounds. “I won New Caledonia twice, I finished 2nd behind (Jussi) Valimaki in 2005. I did Canberra in ’99 and 2000. I finished in the top ten in ’99 and I was 6th when I crashed in 2000. And I did Whangarei last year. I know the roads also in Whangarei; I did the World Championship there in 2000, ’99 and ’98”.
His main rival for the Pacific Cup will be new Cusco driver Dean Herridge. And although Herridge has taken outright international wins in New Zealand and Canberra, he has no experience of the tricky conditions the crews will face in Noumea.
Arriving in New Caledonia last weekend with the rest of the Cusco team, the weather has hampered attempts to test in his new Subaru WRX. “It’s very, very wet. (We) tested on Monday, and it went well despite the weather. But it’s not really testing when it’s like this. More like shakedown, but we needed to do it to start all the communication between me and team. There was so much water on the road that one section was completely covered by water for 30 odd meters!”
Rally New Caledonia starts on Friday night, with two passes over the Noumea Hippodrome, and then moves out onto country roads for Saturdays and Sundays stages.
To hear the full interview with Jean-Louis, click ‘Play Now’ below.