It seems a bit single-minded at first, a rally for cars of one single brand. Through the versatility of Citroën this isn’t really the case: Le Citron Pressé.
The first edition of Le Citron Pressé was held in 1996. It’s a regularity rally for classic cars with the double chevron on the bonnet. ‘Classic’ being a state of mind rather than an iron cast rule, but keep in mind that the model one would like to enter the rally with should no longer be in production. This means a wide range of participants, with the omnipresent ID/DS models and the ubiquitous A-types (all Citroën models based on the 2CV), but also less obvious oldies like the Traction Avant, GS(A), CX and of course the exotic SM. BX’s and XM’s represent the later years, but the odd Visa is just as welcome. In the past there even have been heroes that did the entire rally at the wheel of an H-van or a N350 truck. Even the technical assistance is carried out by two genuine Dutch AA technicians in a just as genuine road side assistance 2CV van. The versatility in the modelrange makes sure that the choice of car is part of the way one can enjoy the rally. Although that doesn’t mean you can’t win in a 1956 2CV, au contraire!
The most important characteristics of Le Citron Pressé, the rally consists of a prologue and three racing days and is situated in France, with start and finish in the south of The Netherlands. And well, Le Citron Pressé is more than just your Sunday afternoon stroll. The chosen name is not just an easy word game with the name of the brand. The participating ‘voitures’ are seriously put to the test during long, challenging stages. The Sports Class, in which the majority of the averagely over 50 equipes take part, isn’t scared of the decaying and often unpaved tracks in the hinterland of the French regions where the rally is passing.
While the organisation really likes to emphasise on the challenging character of the rally, Le Citron Pressé surely isn’t a doddle. Four to five hundred kilometers a day on mostly narrow and meandering country roads is truly demanding on car and driver. The navigator has a serious task in the challenging route book. Every known navigation technique from the rally world is in it. And all of that within a tight time schedule of course. Quite clear that this rally is more than just being hasty to get there, at the end of the day every last drop of energy is squeezed out of you.
After a first sequence of seven rally’s and a long break, Le Citron Pressé was revived in 2011. Since then another seven editions of Le Citron Pressé new style have passed, proving that the event is here to stay. As a competitor you can enjoy the gorgeous landscapes, routes and the mixed company time after time. Although the organisers manage to come up with the most incredible roads year after year, it isn’t always easy to pinpoint where exactly you’ve been. The difficulty level and the concentration span are just to high to simply play the tourist. Does this make it less fun? Well no, driving Le Citron Pressé is a tough job, but worth every single drop of sweat!
Marc GF Zaan
pictures Johan Oldenhage and Raymond van der Meij