Having sealed the title at the last round, Cédric Robert and Matthieu Duval recorded their fifth win of the season at the Rallye du Var. They finished ahead of Florian Bernardi and Xavier Castex, who had already won the Junior title. The Italian pair of Michele Tassone and Luca Santi took the final podium spot on their second appearance in the Clio R3T Trophy France. Kevin van Deijne and Hein Verschuuren finished seventh in the south of France to secure third position in the final overall standings.
The crews set off on Friday afternoon in sombre, overcast conditions. Cédric Robert wasted no time in grabbing the early lead ahead of Thibaut Poizot, who then dropped 41.6s on SS2. Although the leader completed a clean sweep of stage wins on the first loop, Florian Bernardi ended the day only 14.3s off the pace.
Meanwhile, a close fight was developing for the minor places. 1:04.2 behind the leader, Damien Tozlanian had José Javier Pérez, Pascal Bérard, Michele Tassone and Thibaut Poizot all within 15s of him.
Saturday’s leg began with the cancellation of the second pass on La Môle. The crews changed direction and headed for Bormes-les-Mimosas, where it was raining.
Cédric Robert paid no heed to the conditions to move clear of Florian Bernardi whilst José Javier Pérez moved up to third at that point. In the afternoon, Cédric Robert picked up where he had left off, winning the first three stages before notional times were given to the crews on Collobrières 3.
The winner of the 2017 Clio R3T Trophy France ended the day with a 47.3s lead over Florian Bernardi, who was struggling with his tyres. José Javier Pérez was over two minutes back by then, but more worryingly, the Spaniard was only 3.7s ahead of Michele Tassone, 11.9s ahead of Pascal Bérard, 25s ahead of Thibaut Poizot and 28.4s ahead of Damien Tozlanian.
The battle for third place was settled on Sunday. Michele Tassone grabbed the spot by a tenth of a second in winning SS11. José Javier Pérez was unable to fight back as he had to retire following Le Plan de la Tour, the event’s longest stage.
At the front, Cédric Robert stretched his advantage even further after Florian Bernardi’s puncture. In a final show of pride, the young Vaucluse driver went fastest on Gonfaron, but he was unable to prevent Cédric Robert from claiming his fifth victory of the season by a winning margin of 1:57.5.
On his second appearance in the Clio R3T Trophy France, Michele Tassone finished on the podium. The 2015 Italian Junior Champion ended up 50.3s ahead of Pascal Bérard. At the same time, Damien Tozlanian snatched fifth position from Thibaut Poizot thanks to his fine performance on Le Plan de la Tour.
Kevin van Deijne finished seventh, holding off the comebacks of Pascal Aimé and Sara Williams and sealing third place in the final overall standings. Gérard Sébastien rounded off the top ten whilst Frédéric Flajolet and Stéphane Gragnola took the last points available this year.
With Emmanuel Guigou’s win in the R3 class, ahead of Cédric Robert, the Renault Clio R3T claimed an impressive one-two, showing once again its qualities at one of the finest events on the FFSA French Rally Championship calendar.
Renault Sport was also at the Rallye du Var to contribute to the success of the event. Whilst its cars made up more than half of the field in the R3 class, Renault Sport used all its synergies to set up a genuine test centre for the spectators. The rally’s VIP car, New Mégane R.S. also enjoyed its first public outing at the Rallye du Var. A high-profile and well-received first appearance!
Rallye du Var - Clio R3T Trophy France results
1. Cédric Robert – Matthieu Duval 2:04:51.4
2. Florian Bernardi – Xavier Castex +1:57.5
3. Michele Tassone – Fabio Grimaldi +2:43.0
4. Pascal Bérard – Caroline Bérard +3:33.3
5. Damien Tozlanian – Pierre Blot +3:51.7
6. Thibaut Poizot – Fiona Curcio +3:57.0
7. Kevin van Deijne – Hein Verschuuren +7:31.1
8. Pascal Aimé – Morgan Aimé +7:31.7
9. Sara Williams – Mark Glennerster +7:35.7
10. Gérard Sébastien – Bastien Laurent +9:45.4
11. Frédéric Flajolet – Christophe Leroy +12:21.2
12. Stéphane Gragnola – Aymeric Duchemin +15:04.8
13. Riquelmo Gómis – Xavi Lozano +22:28.2
Retired. José Javier Pérez – Alberto Espino
Retired. Patrick Romano – Connie Florio
Retired. Dominique Patenotte – Valentin Augé
Clio R3T Trophy France final overall standings
1. Cédric Robert, 150 points (171)
2. Florian Bernardi, 114 points (117)
3. Kevin Van Deijne, 68 points (76)
4. Damien Tozlanian, 52 points (52)
5. Pascal Bérard, 43 points (43)
6. Michele Tassone, 28 points (28)
7. Fréderic Flajolet, 24 points (24)
8. Pascal Aimé, 22 points (22)
9. Philippe Rageau, 20 points (20)
10. Sara Williams, 19 points (19)
11. Romuald Lezeau, 17 points (17)
12. Jean-Paul Monnin, 15 points (15)
13. Frédéric Perriat, 15 points (15)
14. Éric Filippi, 12 points (12)
15. Stéphane Gragnola, 7 points (7)
16. Dominique Patenotte, 4 points (4)
17. David Sauvaigo, 1 point (1)
18. William Pitot, 0 points (0)
NC. Bruno Longépé, 0 points
NC. Thibaut Poizot, 0 points
NC. Julien Febreau, 0 points
NC. Gérard Sébastien, 0 points
NC. Riquelmo Gómis, 0 points
NC. Riccardo Canzian, 0 points
NC. José Javier Pérez, 0 points
NC. Patrick Romano, 0 points