The German driver is seven points clear of fellow Suzuki Swift runner Karl Kruuda in the standings after four rounds. However, it is Hans Weijs Jr, who will line up in a Citroen C2 Super 1600, who is set to be Burkart’s biggest threat.
Like Burkart, the Dutchman has only tackled three of his nominated five events - Kruuda has taken part on four - and could close to within eight points of Burkart if he wins on the asphalt roads of the France’s Alsace region and Burkart can only manage second place.
“This could be a crucial rally for the championship because it’s crucial not to fail,” said the 28-year-old. “I still have two more rallies and don’t have to drive to win the rally in France. But if Hans Weijs wins and I am only second then it’s only eight points between us heading into the final round in Spain and that would not be an easy situation.”
Burkart, who prepared for Rallye de France by contesting the Tarmac-based Rallye Sanremo in Italy last weekend, won the season-opening Rally of Turkey and was a podium finisher in Portugal and Germany. He says winning the title will help his onward career progression.
“To have a title is always something good and I hope it will be helpful for next year,” said Burkart. “First of all we concentrate on this year’s result, then we will try to organise for next year. There are some discussions going on but there is nothing certain yet and everything is open at the moment.”
Apart from Hans Weijs, Burkart is anticipating a close fight with Kevin Abbring (Renault Clio R3) and Thierry Neuville (C2 S1600). Both have been winners this season and both drivers will be keen to add to their respective tally of wins after slipping down the title standings. Mathieu Arzeno, who hails from France, will also be a contender in his Citroen, while wildcard entrant Jeremi Ancian remains an unknown quantity at world level in his Swift.
British driver Harry Hunt, a newcomer to the series this season, will be looking to continue his promising campaign in his R2-specification Ford Fiesta.
“This could be a crucial rally for the championship because it’s crucial not to fail.”