The French Grand Prix has many traditions and one of the very best is the beautiful scenery en route to the Paul Ricard Circuit. That is, until the beautiful scenery thwarts your drive to work, as Pierre found this week.
The day started off with a gentle drive through the town of Signes. With the fields of France laid out below blue skies, Pierre set off in his Aston Martin Vantage, threading his way up the long and winding roads towards the foothills of the Sainte-Baume mountain ridge. Pierre swept smoothly through sleepy villages, disturbed only by bird song, bush crickets, and the howling roar of a four-litre twin-turbo V8.
And goats. The UN believes there are close to a billion goats in the world, and it appeared that most of them were now congregating in front of Pierre’s Aston Martin.
Happily, this is a region in which hospitality is taken very seriously, and the local farmer took great pleasure in offering Pierre a lift aboard his tractor. Sadly, built for neither speed nor comfort, the farm vehicle wasn’t going anywhere quickly. If only there were a WRC team, complete with World Champion rally driver lurking in the vicinity, thought a frustrated Pierre…
Then, as if from nowhere, Sébastien Ogier and his WRC car donuted to a halt in front of Pierre. It didn’t take long before Pierre had ditched his old ride and his journey to the track resumed as Sébastien’s co-driver. Happily for us a film crew were on hand to film the whole thing. That was lucky!
Reflecting on his off-road experienced alongside a living rally legend, Pierre commented “This has been an insane experience. It’s the first time in my life I’ve been off-roading and I must say it was really amazing. I was super-impressed with the car and with the control being exerted by Séb. It was incredible seeing how hard he could push.
“It’s completely different to an F1 car,” he added. “However, being a passenger, I didn’t like not being in control! I had Séb next to me, so of course I was completely safe. There’s a lot more drifting, you’re sideways everywhere. A lot less grip than what we get in an F1 car but still the feeling is amazing. I’d like to drive a WRC car one day.”