Stephane Sarrazin Sumar
2005 - Signed to Subaru World Rally Team
2004 - Winner, French Rally Championship
1999 - F1 debut with Minardi at Brazilian Grand Prix
1997 - 2nd, French Formula Three Championship
1994 - French Formula Renault Champion
1992 - Winner, French National 1 Karting Championship
1991 - Winner, French Junior Karting Championship
The 2005 season will be a significant one for Stéphane Sarrazin. The first Formula One driver to
make a full-time switch to the World Rally Championship, up to now his motorsport career has been predominantly circuit-based. However, an electrifying WRC debut in 2004 and an incredible performance in the French National Rally Championship bought him to the attention of the Subaru World Rally Team. Still just 29 years old, Sarrazin has been rewarded with a works drive in the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship and becomes the latest driver to benefit from the Subaru's philosophy of developing fresh driver talent.
Learning the craft
Stéphane has been racing cars for as long as he can remember. Since his first karting event in 1987, the Frenchman displayed a natural talent for racing on four wheels and after honing his talent on the kart track he became French Junior Karting Champion in 1991. Twelve months later he was victorious again, this time winning the French National 1 Karting Championship.
The right formula
In 1993 Sarrazin's career moved up a gear when he entered the French Formula Renault Championship and finished the season in fifth place. The following year he took three pole positions, five wins and eleven podium finishes to become the series' Champion. By 1995 Sarrazin had progressed to the French Formula Three Championship. Over the next two seasons he further developed his race craft and by 1997 was one of the front-runners, with a record of three wins and nine podium finishes. Not content with finishing the series in second place, Sarrazin swapped his single-seater for a hatchback to make his rallying debut on the in 1995 Rallye Du Var in a Group N Renault Clio. He enjoyed the experience so much that he contested the rally again the following year.
In 1998 he progressed to the FIA Formula 3000 Championship, winning one round and finishing in fourth place overall. The same year, Sarrazin joined the Prost Formula One team as official test driver, a job he undertook for the next four years. In 1999 Stéphane finished fourth in the FIA Formula 3000 Championship and made his Formula One debut driving for Minardi at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Since his first event in 1995, rallying remained a passion for Stéphane and after winning the Group N class in the Rally Du Var in 2000, he won the event outright in 2001 in an Impreza WRC. But while his rallying ambitions grew stronger, his circuit racing talents were in demand more than ever. In 2001 he contested the 24 Hours Le Mans for Chrysler, while in 2002 he completed another year as a F1 test driver, this time for the F1 Toyota team, and finished sixth at Le Mans for Oreca. In 2003 Sarrazin secured two wins and eight podiums in the Dallara Nissan World Series, but worked hard to find a way to move permanently from the racetrack to the special stage. His big break came in 2004 when he secured an annual rally scholarship supported by Subaru France, which included three rounds of the World Rally Championship.
His performance on his WRC debut made people take notice. Finishing ninth on Rallye Deutschland the Frenchman then went on to finish sixth in the Tour de Corse, before going two better in Catalunya where he was a remarkable fourth. He also dominated the French National Rally Championship at his first attempt, taking three outright wins on his way to the title.
A drive with Subaru
For 2005, Sarrazin will join 2003 World Champion Petter Solberg at the Subaru World Rally team as part of its driver line up. Together with experienced co-driver Denis Giraudet, the pair will broaden their WRC experience with the backing and support of one of the most successful teams in the sport.