There are some great days out to be had for motorsport fans in the Saint Junien area, west of Limoges, deep in mid-west France. 

The motorsport association “ASA Terre de Saint Junien” run all sorts of racing events throughout the year, including two local rallys, auto-cross and camion-cross on the St. Junien auto-cross circuit! We agreed to sponsor their final “Rallye Vienne-Glane Porte Océane du Limousin” in September this year, and we had a great weekend watching our Millers Oils logos fly past from the many public viewing areas!

The action started with vehicle scrutineering on the Saturday, which involved expert scrutineers ensuring that all of the vehicles complied with the safety regulations and were fit to race.  Once the cars had been checked, they were parked up in “parc ferme”, ready for the following day’s racing.  The parc ferme in Saint Junien was in the car park of the Palais de Congres, where all the support for the rally was based, which is in the middle of town!  So how do they get to the start line?  We’ll discover that below.

The racing took place over two routes, north and south of the Vienne River.  Apparently, the routes change each year, rotating between the various St Junien communes in order to give each commune their fair share of the publicity.  However, the routes are not published until the Thursday before the rally, so that the drivers don’t have too much time to go out and test the corners!

This was our first rally, as most of our clients compete on circuits, so it took us a while to work out what was going on!  The way the ASA Terre de Saint Junien runs it, is that each car is released from parc ferme at the start of the day (beginning at 0800hrs), in number order, starting with the historic vehicle category (cars from the 80s!), which are given a pretty good head start so that the first of the following modern car, a VW Polo GTI, wouldn’t catch them.

Essentially each car is racing against the clock for each stint.  Each car will do route one first, then drive over to do route two, then return to parc ferme.  We imagined that there would be cars and trailers all over the place, since none of the cars is street legal, but apparently the Gendarmes give the rally cars special dispensation for the weekend to drive between parc ferme and the stages!  It was really quite bizarre seeing rally cars flying around the town getting to and from the various starting places.

Once all the cars have completed stages 1 and 2, they are ranked in time order and then dispatched again for two more runs, before returning to parc ferme.  The day finishes with a fifth and final stage, which is a re-run of stage 1 only, after which the winners are presented with their trophies back in parc ferme.

Overall, there were 115 cars in 22 categories, so lots of people got prizes!  The overall winner was Jean-Charles Beaubelique, with his co-driver Amandine Borderie in their Volkswagen Polo GTI.  Jean-Charles Beaubelique is a local businessman who sponsors the race and in turn is sponsored by one of our local competitors, so he declined the invitation to wear our Millers Oils cap on the Podium, but it was all good natured and good fun!  It is amazing to see the difference in the classes.  In the first stage, the average speed of the fastest car was around 109 kms/h, whereas the last car was averaging just over 44 kms/h!

All in all we had a great couple of days, and we will be sponsoring this rally again next year, and the other events organized by the ASA Terre de St Junien team.  Hopefully we will be able to sponsor one of the local camion-cross lorries, so we can raise our profile in the heavy-goods world!  And there is more!  The President of the St. Junien Association and his wife, Jean et Josée, competed in the ‘205 Africa Raid’ in Morocco from 27 Oct to 4 Nov and they stickered up their car with Millers Oils for this rally!

Millers Oils – #1 in France