The reigning French Gravel champion started the ERC season opener in northern Portugal on a high after winning all 10 events he tackled in 2022.
But hopes of extending that winning run on Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto suffered an early setback with an off in the mud and rain of the opening stage of Saturday’s first leg.
Speaking during the second morning of the event, the 23-year-old Franceschi, whose AMD Motorsport-run Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo was co-driven by Jules Escartefigue, said: “For sure it is good experience for the future, but we are really disappointed about yesterday’s issue. The mud [from the bank] blocked the radiator so the temperature alarm came on and we needed to stop the car.”
Franceschi, who impressed by going seventh fastest on the Qualifying Stage, continued: “The top 10 was possible because we lost approximately two minutes and a half with the problem and maybe we could be seventh or sixth, I don’t know, but it’s like that.
“Everything was completely new at the beginning of the week and it’s a good thing to be here at the finish. We can be proud of this experience, we had some issues so it was not an easy weekend. Sometimes we had good results in the stages and now we switch the mode to Tarmac for Rally Islas Canarias.”
Franceschi, a Michelin ambassador, clocked five top-five stage times to underline his potential. And he hit back from his Fafe frustration by winning the Tarmac-only Rallye National de Haute-Provence in his homeland last weekend.