Stephane Sarrazin

Stephane Sarrazin

2/11/1974

French racing driver who had a brief F1 career. Drove in F3000 for the Prost Junior team and was lent to Minardi for a one off race in Brazil in 1999 to deputise for the injured Luca Badoer. Continued as a test driver for Prost and Toyota, before turning to Rallying with Subaru and sports car racing with Pescarolo and recently, Aston Martin.

Stephane was born in Arls, France. Coming from a racing family, Sarrazin was taught how to race by his father, René. Five seasons in karts in France culminated in Stéphane becoming both French Junior champion and French National champion in 1991. After then winning the Elf Racing School series in 1992, he progressed into French Formula Renault with the Sodemo team. 5th place in his first year demonstrated his potential, and it came as no surprise when Sarrazin won the title in 1994, with 5 wins and 3 poles in his Martini Mk65 Renault.

In 1995 Stéphane joined the Winfield team to compete in French F3. His first two seasons were disappointing, but in 1997 he took two poles and three wins en route to 2nd position overall in a Dallara Opel.
 
This earned him a seat in the Apomatox-run Gauloises Prost Junior Team for 1998 in F3000. He started in fine form with a win in the wet at Oschersleben, but it was all downhill after that. He finished 6th in the final points behind champion Juan-Pablo Montoya and retained his drive for 1999.

In 1999 he joined the Prost F1 team as a test driver as well as continuing his F3000 duties with the junior team. Then at the start of the year he found himself a Grand prix driver when Minardi called him up at short notice, to deputise for the injured Luca Badoer. With no testing, the Frenchman acquitted himself extremely well on his Grand Prix debut in Brazil, but his race ended dramatically when his car suffered a suspension failure.

Back in F3000, Stephane again took a single win at the Hungaroring. He also finished on the podium three times finishing the season in 4th place. He continued with the Prost Grand Prix team as their third driver putting in many miles of testing.

In 2000 it was expected that Stephane would move up into a full time drive with Prost, but it was the 1999 F3000 champion Nick Heidfeld who got the drive. A disappointed Sarrazin returned to F3000 with the McLaren Junior team while also continuing for a second season as a Prost F1 test driver. At the end of the year he drove in the Rallye du Var, part of the French Rally Championship, in a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI with navigator Jean-Julien Renucci. He proved a natural taking the Group N class win, not bad for his first rally.

In 2001 he competed in the Rallye du Var again, this time in a 1999-spec Subaru Impreza WRC, and stunned everyone by taking outright victory in the event. He also drove at Le Mans for the first time.

It looked like he had found his niche but for 2002 the Toyota F1 team signed him as their second test driver alongside Australian Ryan Briscoe. He drove in the the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Oreca, qualifying 2nd and finishing 6th in the race.

In 2003 he competed in the Nissan World Series, taking two wins and eight podium finished, and the FIA Sports Car championship. Winning at Estoril, finishing 2nd at Le Mans 1000 Km race (at the 24 hour race he came 8th) and at Spa Francorchamps in the LPM900 Peugeot Pescarolo C60.

In 2004 he won the annual rally scholarship sponsored by Subaru France and the French motorsport association, the FFSA. He beat the Junior World Rally Champion, Brice Tirabassi, in the competition that pitted the competitors against the works Prodrive team and First Motorsport. He proceeded to win the French national rally championship and finish in the top-10 on three WRC rallies, with a career-best fourth in Spain.

In 2005 he saw both track and off road action, teaming up with Peter Kox and Pedro Lamy in Aston Martin Racing’s debut of its DBR9 at Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, finishing eighth in GT1. He also competed with Aston Martin in FIA GT competition. His best result was third-place GT1 finish at 24 Hours of Le Mans with David Brabham and Darren Turner and was sixth at the Spa 24 Hours in FIA-GT, again with Brabham and Turner.

In his first full season at WRC level in 2005 Stéphane proved himself to be one of the most accomplished drivers on tarmac in the championship. He consistently set top-ten stage times on asphalt and was one of only two drivers able to match World Champion Sébastien Loeb for pace in his domination of the Tour de Corse. Stéphane equalled his best ever WRC result of fourth overall at the same event.

Retained by Subaru for 2006 Sarrazin did well and scored points on three of his four outings, with the exception of Rallye Deutschland. This despite the lack of competitiveness of the Impreza WRC. Unfortunately, despite his efforts to try and get to grips with gravel, he has been unable to shake off the tag of being an asphalt specialist and was not retained for 2007.

In 2006 he once again raced for Aston Martin in the ALMS and in FIA GT racing. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sarrazin joined Lamy and Stephane Ortelli in the DBR9 and led the GT1 field for most of the race however, inside the final three hours, a clutch problem sidelined the car for 45 minutes. As a result, Sarrazin and company completed 341 laps en route to a 10th-place overall and fifth-place GT1 finish.
 
Stephane also raced for Aston Martin in the American Le Mans Series. At Lime Rock, Sarrazin endured a spin en route to helping Aston Martin Racing capture its first Series win in more than a year. At Mosport, Sarrazin and Lamy raced to their second victory of the season. Stephane finished second in the driver’s championship. They then went on to win the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca on Saturday 21 October.

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