Contested at six rounds of the French Rally Championship, the Clio R3T France Trophy will get underway at Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières (21-23 April). Fifteen Renault Clio R3Ts will line up at the start, with a blend of youth and experience among the crews. Benoit Vaillant, winner of the 2015 France area Clio R3T European Trophy, will be one of the favourites but he will have many serious rivals.
After the first season’s racing stretched across Europe, this year, the Clio R3T is focusing on four national trophies (France, ALPS, Italy and Iberia). The French version of the trophy will be held at six rounds of the French Rally Championship, with increased prize money at each rally and a new end of season prize.
Winner of last year’s France area Clio R3T European Trophy, Benoit Vaillant has all the qualities to be one of the frontrunners, despite facing stiffer competition this time round. Another of the expected frontrunners is William Pitot, competing in his second season in a Clio R3T and looking to make use of his experience to finish near the top of the timesheets.
Charles Martin, winner of the 2012 Twingo R1 Trophy, has since competed in the French Championship and the European Rally Championship, thus acquiring impressive experience in two-wheel drive rallying. Although he is new to the Clio R3T, the fact that the car is so easy to get to grips with means he must also be considered as one of the favourites.
A two-time runner-up in the women’s standings of the French Rally Championship, Charlotte Dalmasso, who will also be entered in the female category of the Trophy, knows the roads of the French Clio R3T Trophy very well. This is equally true of Rémi Jouines, who has extensive experience in two-wheel drive rallying after spending several seasons competing in promotional formulas.
Several long-time Renault drivers have joined the Clio R3T France Trophy, like Pascal Bérard, who won the 2014 Renault Sport Challenge in the R3 category, and Jérôme Chavanne, who was one of his main rivals in the challenge and who has a great deal of experience.
In the Junior category of the Clio R3T France Trophy, whilst top billing goes to Benoit Vaillant, William Pitot and Charles Martin, Stéphane Boissy, Kevin van Deijne and Cédric Ferrari are worthy competitors on the undercard. Stéphane Boissy, loyal to Renault since he began his rallying career, has plenty of experience of the R3 category and has already started learning about competing in the Clio R3T. The Dutchman Kevin van Deijne has a full season in a Clio R3T under his belt – with several category wins – and also has experience in the World Rally Championship. Less experienced, Cédric Ferrari will be contesting his second rally in a Clio R3T in the south-east of France.
Other drivers have joined the Trophy and will be aiming for points around Lyon. After and several seasons and a number of class wins in a Mégane R.S., Philippe Corneau has decided to change cars in opting for a Clio R3T. With a background in rallycross, Guillaume Bergeon has seized the opportunity provided by the Clio R3T Trophy France to make his competitive debut in promotional formulas. Frédéric Fajolet, who christened his Clio R3T at Le Touquet last month, is also seen as something of an outsider. Frédéric Perriat knows the R3 category well, but will be enjoying his first outing in a Clio R3T in the Lyon region. As regards Damien Tozlanian, he will be contesting his second season in a Clio R3T, having scored several category podium-finishes in the France Rally Cup.
Following the shakedown held on Thursday, 21 April, the rally will last two days on Friday and Saturday. Although the winner of the Clio R3T France Trophy will earn some €7,000, the top ten will be awarded prizes. The top Junior and the first Woman will both receive €1,000 in prize money.
List of entrants
Pascal Bérard – Caroline Bérard
Guillaume Bergeon – Vincent Merlet
Stéphane Boissy – Jérôme Bard (Junior)
Jérôme Chavanne – Julien Schillaci
Philippe Corneau – Samuel Grégoire
Charlotte Dalmasso – Gwenaëlle Le Poec (Female)
Kevin van Deijne – Hein Verschuuren (Junior)
Cédric Ferrari – Didier Parodi (Junior)
Frédéric Flajolet – Olivier Chaufour
Rémi Jouines – Adrien Bonicel
Charles Martin – Matthieu Duval (Junior)
Frédéric Perriat – Julie Bessonnet
William Pitot – Franck Carrasco (Junior)
Damien Tozlanian – Pierre Blot
Benoit Vaillant – Antoine Brule (Junior)