Julien Meunier: “I didn’t expect the level of this championship to be so high”

Although his first outing in the RallyX championship ended on the second step of the podium in Tierp, the French Super1600 champion is aware that his apprenticeship in the Supercar Lites class has only just begun.

For his first international experience, Julien Meunier faced a real challenge. Finishing sixth in Friday’s Rally Sprint, the second day of competition got off to a bad start for the Frenchman, who rolled over at the exit of Turn 1 after making contact with Casper Jansson.

Back in business in Q2 with a fourth fastest time, the French driver gradually found his balance and took advantage of Casper Jansson’s problems in the final to secure the second step on the podium between Lukas Andersson and Tobias Daarbak.

“It was a really crazy weekend,” Julien comments.

“I think we went through all kinds of emotions. After the crash in Q1 we had to get back on track. I started from a clean sheet and tried to take it all in, telling myself that nothing was over. But nothing was easy. Even though I was fourth quickest in Q2, the speed wasn’t there. I think we took too long to understand the dynamics of this track, which turned out to be very changeable. After Q3 we decided to change our approach in terms of the set-up, because I didn’t feel comfortable at all behind the wheel.”

“I had to work hard and challenge myself. For the semi-final we made some small adjustments that allowed me to get my car back on top form. Above all, I stopped thinking too much and tried to find out how to drive the car.”

Third in the overall standings, Julien Meunier heads to Kouvola this weekend with the firm intention of continuing his progress.

“Theoretically we should have finished third, but we were able to take advantage of Casper’s [Jansson] retirement to gain an extra position. The good thing was that we were able to keep the pace in the final. Andersson and Jansson had a strong rhythm, but I was able to keep up with them. To be honest, I didn’t expect the level of this championship to be so high.”

This weekend, the return of Mattis Jansson (absent at Tierp) and Simon Olofsson (engine failure) will not make the rookie’s task any easier.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn about the car, while I’ve still got a lot of work to do on these Scandinavian tracks and on this loose gravel on which I still need to make progress. Third place in the championship is a somewhat unexpected result given the way my weekend went. However, we have shown that we can come back from difficult situations. I’ve rarely experienced such an intense race weekend. In this championship nothing is over until the chequered flag comes down, and that’s a lesson I have to learn. It will make me think about what’s to come. Right now I’m just happy with this performance. It’s all coming to a good end and I hope I will be able to be even more efficient in Kouvola.”