The fourth round of the Clio R3T France Trophy, Rallye du Rouergue (7-9 July), may well determine the final outcome of the championship. Charles Martin, leader and winner of the last two rounds, begins as favourite. But he will have to contend with a host of rivals who will be determined not to let him get away from them.
Rallye du Rouergue kicks off the second half of the season in the Clio R3T France Trophy. The leading contenders from the last few rounds are all due to compete here, so this round may prove decisive in the title race.
Charles Martin, winner in Antibes and Limoges, moved clear at the top of the standings with his last victory. Martin’s healthy lead gives him something of a free hit, meaning he can drive freely and confidently, especially as he has already won here in the Twingo R1 Trophy back in 2012. A third Clio R3T France Trophy win would see him taking a big step towards the title.
However, he will need to keep an eye on Kevin van Deijne, his closest rival. The Dutchman has been improving consistently this year. Finishing as runner-up in Limousin may make him feel that he can really go for the win, a result that would undoubtedly increase his hopes of winning the title.
Third in the championship standings, Pascal Bérard is only a point behind Kevin van Deijne. He will therefore be aiming to regain second place, whilst also closing the gap to Charles Martin. Although this is his first appearance at this rally, he has substantial experience in the R3 category, having taken part in many similar events.
Sixth in the standings, William Pitot will also be looking to score heavily at Rallye de Rouergue. Familiar with the event, he will be aiming to get onto the pace quickly so he can push for a podium place. Damien Tozlanian, on the other hand, is new to the Aveyron round of the French Rally Championship but, armed with plenty of experience at national events, he will be determined to do well.
Patrice Poinapin, who joined the Clio R3T France Trophy at Rallye d’Antibes, will be keen to move up the standings after finishing ninth on his maiden outing. Charlotte Berton, who knows the roads in her region very well, will be aiming to win the prize for the leading female driver and produce a strong performance on her first appearance in the Clio R3T France Trophy. Geoffrey Burnens will also be making his debut in the Trophy, as well as driving a Clio R3T for the first time.
Rallye du Rouergue will be contested over two days, with ten stages. The schedule features two loops of two tests on Friday, 8 July, with a total of 96.8 kilometres of timed sections. Saturday’s leg is composed of three stages, each run twice, covering a total of 110.3 kilometres. The final podium will be held on Saturday, 9 July in Rodez, from 8pm.
Overall standings (before round 4 of 6)
1. Charles Martin 70 points
2. Kevin van Deijne 36 pts
3. Benoît Vaillant 35 pts
3. Pascal Bérard 35 pts
5. Philippe Corneau 28 pts
6. William Pitot 24 pts
7. Rémi Jouines 21 pts
8. Damien Tozlanian 20 pts …