He's a Frenchman and he won the Junior World Rally Championship driving Citroen. Who is he? Sebastien Loeb? Sebastien Ogier? No! Although both of them were World junior champions before they conquered the world in the big boys' category, now we are talking about the talented rally driver Stephane Lefebvre. After Loeb in 2001 and Ogier in 2008, Lefebvre became the third French rally driver who won the JWRC title with Citroën. He did that in 2014, driving the Citroen DS3 R3T.
The successor of Loeb and Ogier on the WRC throne?
Lefebvre isn't Loeb's and Ogier's successor just because he is the Junior WRC winner but also because he is a driver of Citroën's factory WRC team, which he joined during 2015. The similar biographies of three French drivers bring us to the logical prediction – that Lefebvre is probably the next world rally champion?
The rally career of Stéphane Lefebvre, born on March 16,1992, started at the age 18 when he was legally eligible to drive rally cars. His first competition was the 2010 Renault Twingo R2 Trophy, in which he scored one win and one more podium and finished third in the points.
2011 Rallye Monte-Carlo
2011 Rallye Monte-Carlo was Stephane's first international event
Renault Twingo RS R2 was the car of Lefebvre's first international event, the 2011 Rallye Monte-Carlo, which was the part of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge that year. Stéphane and his copilot Nicolas Gilsoul finished 36th overall and first in Class 6.
The next step was a bigger and stronger car for the 2011 season. It was the Peugeot 207 RC R3T, which was Lefebvre's machine in the various national competitions, including Volant Peugeot. With just one podium, he finished sixth in the points, mostly competing alongside co-driver Thomas Dubois. In 2012, Lefebvre finished second in the Volant Peugeot classification, taking the award for the best junior driver.
In 2013, Stephane joined Peugeot Rally Academy
WRC debut at 2013 Rally de France
In 2013, Lefebvre made a big step up, joining the Peugeot Rally Academy and competing in the European Rally Championship with Peugeot 208 VTi R2. He scored two podiums in ERC 2WD class, in Latvia and Portugal and finished sixth in the points.
During the year, Stéphane competed in many national events but the highlight of the season was his WRC debut at 2013 Rallye de France – Alsace. He was a member of the French national team, supported by FFSA (Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile), in the #142 Peugeot R2 VTi R2, alongside co-driver Thomas Dubois. The duo finished 20th overall and 10th in Class 6.
The best 2014 ERC Junior with Peugeot 208
The 2014 season was successful both in ERC and WRC
The 2014 season was the milestone year in Lefebvre's career. He had a double programme, competing with Peugeot Rally Academy at the European Rally Championship and driving the Citroen DS3 R3T in the Junior WRC competition. He was very successful in both competitions, finishing 2nd in the ERC 2WD standings, taking the ERC Junior title and becoming the World's junior champion.
Lefebvre's ERC campaign didn't start well after his Peugeot 208 was damaged in the fire at season-opening Rally Liepaja. In the next event, SATA Rallye Acores, he took first 2WD class win. Later he added podiums at Ypres Rally and Czech Rally Zlin and he finished second in the points and as the best ERC junior.
2014 Junior World Rally champion
The best junior rally driver in the world
In the Junior WRC competition, Lefebvre started the year with a victory in Portugal. He repeated triumphs at Rally Poland and ADAC Rally Deutschland, taking the championship titles both in the JWRC and WRC 3 competitions.
His award was two participations at WRC events in new Citroen DS3 R5 cars. At RallyRACC Catalunya he retired after the first leg, at Wales Rally GB he finished 35th overall and 10th in WRC2 classification.
WRC2 class victory at 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo
The PH Sport's Citroen DS3 R5 was Lefebvre's ride in 2015, both in the ERC and WRC events, alongside experienced co-driver Stephane Prevot. Their first major success was the WRC2 class victory and 12th place overall at 2015 Rallye Monte-Carlo.
In the next three WRC events (Sweden, Mexico and Argentina) Stéphane didn't reach the finish, because of the accidents or mechanical failures. At Ypres Rally, Lefebvre had a one-off appearance in the Peugeot Rally Academy's 208 T16 and he finished fifth.
In 2015, Lefebvre competed with R5 version of DS3m before stepped in DS3 WRC
Maiden WRC point in the first attempt with WRC machine
In August 2015, at ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Lefebvre had a maiden attempt in the WRC car. It was the #12 Citroën DS3 WRC of the factory-backed Citroën Total Abu Dhabi team. Lefebvre finished 10th at German asphalt and scored his first WRC point.
Until the end of the season, he recorded four more participations with DS3 WRC (Australia, France, Spain and GB), scoring the best result at season-closing Wales Rally GB. He finished 8th overall and scored four points, putting himself on the 19th place in the WRC standings.
Lefebvre and Moreau in 2016
Shortened 2016 WRC campaign while waiting for new car
For the 2016 season, Citroen's factory team announced withdrawal from WRC, focusing on the development of the all-new 2017-spec C3 WRC. The Citroen's second team Abu Dhabi Total WRT, owned by Khalid Al-Qassimi, continues to compete in selected WRC events with Kris Meeke, Stephane Lefebvre and Craig Breen in DS3 WRC cars.
Meeke scored two wins (Portugal and Finland), Breen took the podium in Finland, while Lefebvre scored points in two events, finishing fifth at Rallye Monte-Carlo and ninth at Rally Poland. At 2016 ADAC Rallye Deutschland, Stephane participated with Citroen DS3 WRC and suffered a massive crash at the Panzerplatte Special Stage. He and co-driver Gabin Moreau were transferred to a hospital, but the injuries weren't life-threatening.
New Citroen C3 WRC came for the 2017 WRC season
In 2017, Lefebvre returned to WRC as Citroen's factory driver, to driver all-new Citroen C3 WRC together with Meeke and Breen. Lefebvre is sharing the team's second car with Breen. While not in the new C3 WRC, he's driving an old DS3 WRC.