Auriol, a driver with divine speed

Didier Auriol

Born in Montpellier, France in 1958. Auriol’s WRC debut was at the 1984 Tour de Corse in a Renault 5 Turbo. He raced with Ford in 1887, Lancia in 1889, and Toyota in 1993. In 1994, he obtained the drivers’ championship title with Toyota. In 1995, Toyota withdrew from the series. As a consequence, Auriol raced with Subaru and Mitsubishi in 1996. In 1997, he raced for a private team in some rounds, and also helped develop Toyota’s new Corolla WRC. In 1998, Toyota came back to the WRC with the Corolla, Auriol raced along Sainz in the series. In 1999, he won the China Rally. As Toyota once again backed out from the WRC, he changed his team to SEAT in 2000, Peugeot in 2001, and Skoda in 2003. After a year with Skoda, Auriol stopped competing in the series, and he took part in events in the Rally Show and IRC.

Toyota returned to the WRC in 1998. Auriol competed in the WRC with Carlos Sainz. Auriol’s win in China played a big part in Toyota obtaining the manufacturers’ title.

Auriol had his first interest in rallying at the age of 16 when his brother Gerard was competing in rally races. After learning how to drive a car from his brother, Auriol obtained his driver’s license at 18 years old. In 1979, at the age of 21, he started his rally career. He drove a Simca Rally 2 in the French Rally Championship, but he ended many of his races without being able to finish. His profession back then was an ambulance driver. Up until 1982, he only took part in a few races of the championship. However, things changed when he started competing in the French Rally Championship with a Renault 5 Turbo in 1983. Auriol started marking top times in 1984. In 1986, he competed from the 33 Export Rally Team in a MG Metro 6R4 for the French Rally Championship. Auriol became champion after winning 5 rounds in the series. From there on, he won the championship 3 years in a row until 1988.

In 1987 he signed with Ford. He competed in the French Rally Championship, WRC and ERC with the team. His teammate back then was Carlos Sainz. Auriol had his first ever WRC win at the 1988 Tour de Cours.

Auriol’s first WRC win was at the 1988 Tour de Cours. The machine was a Ford Sierra RS Cosworth.

In 1989, he moved on to Lancia. In 1992, although he marked 6 wins in the WRC series, he lost the championship title to Carlos Sainz. He had a total of 11 wins with Lancia in the WRC. In 1993, he changed his team to Toyota, driving a Celica GT-FOUR ST185. In 1994, he won his first ever WRC championship title. In 1995, although he won the Tour de Cours, an illegal device was found in Auriol’s car, excluding Toyota from the series. Auriol lost his seat in the WRC. As a result, he raced with Subaru and Mitsubishi in 1996 on a couple of rounds in the series. In 1997, Toyota come back to the WRC with the new Corolla WRC, Auriol helped the manufacturer develop the car. In the 1998 Rally Catalunya, he brought home the win to the team. In 1999, Auriol also won the Rally China, helping Toyota obtain its manufacturers’ title for the season.

The 1990 Tour de Cours was his third consecutive win. He marked a total of 6 wins at Tour de Cours during his career.

Auriol places tenth in the 1996 Sweden, competing in a Subaru Impreza.

In the same year, Auriol competed in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution at Sanremo. He finished eighth overall, after Makinen retired from the race.

Auriol had moments in his career where he drove much faster compared to his teammates. He commented on this saying, “I am able to drive fast when my conditions are at best. It’s like a heart-to-heart communication between a rider and a horse. The moment comes out of the blue, and all of a sudden, driving becomes easy for me.”

In 2000 he changed his team to SEAT and drove a SEAT WRC. His best result of the season was third during the Safari Rally. In 2001, he moved on to Peugeot and got the win at the Rally Catalunya. This became his last WRC win. In 2001 he competed with a private team during two rounds. He signed with Skoda in 2002 but lost his seat the following year. From there on, he competed in a few rounds in the WRC and IRC.

Auriol’s last WRC win was during the 2001 Catalunya Rally in a Peugeot 206WRC.

Didier Auriol WRC Record of victory

Times Year Event Co-driver Car
1 1988 Tour de Corse Bernard Occelli Ford Sierra RS Cosworth
2 1989 Tour de Corse Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale
3 1990 Rallye de Monte-Carlo Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
4 1990 Tour de Corse Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
5 1990 Rallye Sanremo Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
6 1991 Rallye Sanremo Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta Integrale 16V
7 1992 Rallye de Monte-Carlo Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
8 1992 Tour de Corse Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
9 1992 Acropolis Rally Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
10 1992 Rally Argentina Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
11 1992 1000 Lakes Rally Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
12 1992 Rally Australia Bernard Occelli Lancia Delta HF Integrale
13 1993 Rallye de Monte-Carlo Bernard Occelli Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
14 1994 Tour de Corse Bernard Occelli Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
15 1994 Rally Argentina Bernard Occelli Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
16 1994 Rallye Sanremo Bernard Occelli Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
17 1995 Tour de Corse Denis Giraudet Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
18 1998 Rallye Catalunya Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
19 1999 China Rally Denis Giraudet Toyota Corolla WRC
20 2001 Rallye Catalunya Denis Giraudet Peugeot 206 WRC

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