Following an incredibly competitive season-opener three weeks ago in Morzine, the Clio Trophy France put up an amazing show with even more plot twists during the Rallye Cœur de France. Led for the longest time by Thomas Chauffray, the second round of the year was eventually won by Anthony Fotia on the very last special stage of the fastest rally on the calendar!
As was the case in the first round of the season at Mont-Blanc, the Clio Trophy Rally was once again the biggest field of a French Championship event with 26 crews lined up Saturday morning at the start of the Rallye Cœur de France.
Leader of the general classification following his victory in the opening round in the Alps, Romain Di Fante started strong Saturday morning with the fastest time on the first special stage before taking on the longest time sector of the rally.
On Bessé-sur-Braye (27.27km), the Nice native went off the road, which brought an end to his day. After suffering a puncture on SS1, Thomas Chauffray put in an outstanding run to win the stage with a more than nine-second lead.
After claiming the pace notes to Julien Baziret around Morzine, Thomas Chauffray showed this time all his craft behind the wheel of New Clio Rally with another scratch time on SS3 to conclude the first loop with an 8.2s lead from Anthony Fotia.
Despite stage wins for Anthony Fotia and Guillaume Canivenq in the afternoon, Thomas Chauffray came back for another fast run on Bessé-sur-Braye to set best time by more than ten seconds to relegate his two rivals at 19.8s at the end of the first leg.
On Sunday, Thomas Chauffray was just as impressive in the trickier conditions when it began to rain. The leader kept pushing and was fastest on the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage to collect five bonus points.
Quickest on SS9, then equal fast time with Guillaume Canivenq on SS10, Thomas Chauffray seemed to be on his way to win his first appearance in a feeder series with a lead of 30.1s heading to the final stage.
This final timed sector however was the scene of an incredible plot twist. After hitting a curb on the preceding special stage, Thomas Chauffray lost his front right wheel and nearly a minute. Meanwhile, Anthony Fotia pulled out all the stops to set best time and take the win for less than six seconds from Guillaume Canivenq!
Thomas Chauffray managed to hold on for third place ahead of Alexis Frontier, who won his duel with Romain Fostier. Following a tough Saturday morning, Rémi Jouines went on to finish sixth, followed by Maxime Braesch, Maxime Delhommeau and Calvin Lucas, who finished ninth in his Clio Trophy France debut. Victor Cartier completed the top ten while 12th place Thierry Monnet was the highest placed Gentleman.
Fourth at Morzine and second at Vendôme, Guillaume Canivenq is the new leader of a very tight general classification, with a five-point lead from Romain Di Fante, six from Anthony Fotia and seven from Rémi Jouines. Romain Fostier closes a top five covered by just nine points while Thomas Chauffray is now sixth overall.
In the teams’ classification, Europe Location did very well with the strong performances of Guillaume Canivenq and Thomas Chauffray to take a 28-point lead from Chazel Technologie Course, while Groupe Fabre de Rodez takes the lead In the Renault Dealership Challenge.
After this extremely competitive and intense meeting, the Clio Trophy France promises to be more unpredictable than ever as the competitors now head to Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur (October 16-18) for the third round of the season.
Rallye Cœur de France – Clio Trophy France*
1. Anthony Fotia – Didier Sirugue (J) 1h54:26.7s
2. Guillaume Canivenq — Bastien Dumas +5.9s
3. Thomas Chauffray — Pauline Vaultier +25.1s
4. Alexis Frontier — Jeremy Gulino +1:20.8s
5. Romain Fostier – Ophélie Abchiche +1:39.4s
6. Rémi Jouines — Marine Lacruz +2:25.2s
7. Maxime Braesch — Andre Loick (J) +3:16.9s
8. Maxime Delhommeau — Valentin Goutel +3:47.5s
9. Calvin Lucas — Amandine Houry (J) +5:00.2s
10. Victor Cartier — Marine Maye (J) +5:20.6s
11. Mathias De Sousa — Marie Corbineau +5:48.7s
12. Thierry Monnet — Quentin Saxemard (G) +5:51.6s
13. Benjamin Stirling — Florence Wehrey (J) +6:04.2s
14. Philippe Rageau — Amélyne Rageau (G) +7:09.3s
15. Sébastien Rambaud — Aurélien Frejefond (J) +7:09.7s
16. Jean Jouines — Sylvain Kukulka (J) +9:56.9s
17. Ghjuvanni Rossi — Baptiste Volpei (J) +10:506s
18. Éric Filippi — Julie Amblard (G) +16:45.8s
19. Stéphane Demier — Charles Beraud (G) +28:12.1s
Ab. Romain Di Fante — Jules Escartefigue (J)
Ab. Jonathan Grande — Sandrine Guirado (J)
Ab. Luc Giroux — Julien Loup
Ab. Antoine Massé – Gwenola Marie
Ab. Julien Baziret – Delphine Laval
Ab. Damien Mattei — Laurent Magat (J)
Ab. Brandon Maisano - Pierre Pebeyre (J)
* subject to additional technical verifications