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Rallye La Rochelle

Motorsport Photography of Porsche 911 Historic rally car at Rallye La Rochelle, 2016 - French Tarmac Rally Championship by Ian Skelton Photography

I’ve had a great couple of motorsport photography weeks. Last week I was in the Welsh forests for the UK round of the WRC, The Wales Rally GB. This week I’m in South West France for the Rallye La Rochelle 2016. This would be Mrs S & our friend’s first taste of rally spectating. I might just have to pack the Nikon D4 & a couple of lenses then….well, seemed rude not to!!

I made the 900km road trip with Mrs S & 2 friends for a well earned long weekend break. It just so happened that our local town was hosting a rally. Not a small rally either, but the final round of the French Tarmac Rally Championship, 2016 Rallye La Rochelle. We decided to go into the seaside town of La Rochelle that evening & watch the cars go over ceremonial start ramp on the port wall. The cars went off to complete 2 night stages before returning to overnight Parc Fermé. We didn’t watch this, I didn’t want to scare off my newbies too soon….maybe next year!!

Time for some spectating…

Breakfast sorted we made our way off for the short 30 minute walk into Stage 4…leaving the girls to have fun in town until we met them for lunch. The organisers ran an Historic Rally ahead of the main Rallye La Rochelle. There were some really lovely cars from yesteryear of French rallying.

Rallye La Rochelle 2016, Ian Skelton Motorsport Photography

My friend was amazed at the speed these cars took the square left junction in front of us, not to mention the sound they made. His face however was an absolute picture when Car 1, a Citroen DS3 WRC of the main rally came flying into view!!! Spitting flame & banging as the anti-lag kicked, I never tire of the spectacle. To witness the reaction from someone who had never experienced it before was good fun.

Rallye La Rochelle 2016, Ian Skelton Motorsport Photography Rallye La Rochelle 2016, Ian Skelton Motorsport Photography

Lunchtime & meet up with the girls, so back to the Grand Cafe in Surgères we went. A much welcome lunch of moules & frites with a cold beer…..this is the way to watch rallying!!! Wonderfully refreshed all 4 of us headed off to catch Stage 7 (a re-run of this mornings stage).

Rallye La Rochelle 2016, Ian Skelton Motorsport Photography Rallye La Rochelle 2016, Ian Skelton Motorsport Photography

Unfortunately a car left the road just down the stage from where we were watching. It hit & brought down a utilities pole, blocking the track & resulted in the stage being cancelled. Thankfully the crew were ok if a bit shaken up. Sadly the stage could not be cleared in time & the Clerk of Course decided to cancel Stage 10 the final run, which was due to be in full darkness.

It has wetted our appetite for a bit more & so we will be back for Rallye La Rochelle 2017

To see a small collection of photos from Rallye La Rochelle please go to