Tue 11 Oct 2022

Where are they now? Bryan Bouffier

As the established training ground for future stars, the FIA European Rally Championship has a long history of producing top talents. In the first of a new series of features, we delve into the career of Bryan Bouffier and learn where he is now.

Like many of France’s up-and-coming stars, Bouffier made his first foray into the world of rallying in the driving seat of two-wheel drive Peugeot cars. 

Two years at the helm of a plucky little 106 brought mixed successes, but it was in 2002 - after winning the Volant Peugeot 206 Cup - when Bouffier’s career began to skyrocket. 

From there, his relationship with the French manufacturer blossomed. In 2003 he became an official Peugeot Sport driver and spent three years competing in the French Tarmac championship in a Peugeot 206 S1600.

In 2006, Bouffier made his first full assault on the European title - once again with a 206. It was a breakthrough year for the asphalt specialist as he stormed to victory by more than five minutes at Rally Antibes before ending the season a respectable fifth overall. 

A move to Peugeot Sport’s Polska outfit in 2007 culminated in back-to-back Polish championship titles with a 207 S2000 and Bouffier became French champion in 2010 before returning to a full ERC campaign in 2011.

The season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo produced one of Bouffier’s stand-out career drives. Languishing down in seventh overall at the end of the opening day, a well-informed tyre choice saw the 207 star fly into the lead after blitzing the field on a snow-blanketed run through St Jean en Royans - Font d'Urle. 

Bouffier never looked back, arriving back to the Monaco finish 32.5sec clear of Freddy Loix to secure his one and only Monte-Carlo victory - as well as the famous reputation that goes along with it. 

In 2013, Bouffier got his first taste of World Rally Car machinery at Rallye Monte-Carlo with a Citroën DS3 WRC. He and long-term co-driver Xavier Panseri ended a respectable fifth overall whilst also finishing the ERC season as runners-up to Jan Kopecký after another strong year with Peugeot.

In the second half of the year, however, the relationship with Peugeot came to an end when Bouffier was selected as one of Hyundai’s WRC test drivers. He undertook many tests with the team’s i20 WRC, earning praise from then team principal Michel Nandan.  

"I'm happy to have Bryan on board," Nandan said at the time. "He adopts a very professional driving style and can give detailed technical feedback as well as being a very consistent driver, which are all very important attributes for a test driver.”

That didn’t stop Bouffier from once again attempting Monte-Carlo; this time in 2014 with a privately-entered Ford Fiesta WRC. He led for almost half the event before eventually settling for second overall behind a certain Sébastien Ogier.

And, while his outings for Hyundai’s top-flight squad in France and Germany the same year proved fruitless, Bouffier did manage to notch up a brace of ERC podiums. 

Alongside other development campaigns, Bouffier went on to contest several more ERC rounds and currently has five victories to his name. There have, of course, been more Monte-Carlo attempts too - although none were as successful as in 2011.

He last featured in the FIA European Rally Championship in 2017 when he finished third with an R5-specification Fiesta, but has been out of competitive action since 2019. Now aged 43, there are no known plans of a Bouffier return. But we won’t rule it out…

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
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Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM