For the first time since 2017, a rally feeder series dedicated to Renault Clio will be in action at Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur. In this new round since the introduction of the Clio Rally5 in 2020, 40 teams will compete for the victory and the lead of the Clio Trophy France Asphalte.
After a season opener with 40 Clio Rally5s, the Clio Trophy France Asphalte once again confirms its huge success by welcoming the same number of crews to its service park for the second round of 2022. Renault will thus be the most represented brand on the third stage of the FFSA French Tarmac Rally Championship at the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur.
Thomas Chauffray is aiming for his second win of the year after his Touquet win, but the Europe Location driver expects his rivals to make a big deal out of it. Despite being only a few seconds short in the Pas-de-Calais. Juniors Tom Pieri and Styve Juif will take the lead despite their lack of experience on these challenging stages.
The unique profile of the roads would suit more experienced contenders. Determined to start his comeback in the general classification, Patrick Magnou is eager to capitalize on his five previous entries in the event. Yann Clairay, Romain Fostier, who already triumphed in this rally 11 years ago, and Sébastien Rambaud, who finished on the podium for his French FFSA GT Championship debut at Magny-Cours last week, will be others to watch. Front runners on the Touquet, Yohan Corberand and Nicolas Hebrard can also compete for victory if they confirm their excellent adaptability.
Several Juniors are entering the rally with higher expectations. Jérémy Sarhy, Louis Myr and Guillaume Bonnet will aim for their first trophies, while Benjamin Stirling aims to get back on track after retiring from the Touquet. Calvin Lucas and Pierre Paul Baltolu, who almost finished in the top ten last time, also want to take a step forward, as do Arthur Pelamourgues, Arthur Roché and Enzo Luccotte. Meanwhile, Théo Apchie looks set to score his first points after a complicated first round.
Some newcomers will try to disrupt the hierarchy. After earning his points last year, Valentin Ascenzi will launch his campaign in Antibes, as will former French Junior Rally Championship entrant and 2022 Rallye Terre des Causses RC4 winner Louis Constant. Meanwhile, Yannick Francisci, Benjamin Barnouin, Paulin Valet, Maxence Passaquet and Mathieu Bonche will debut in the Clio Trophy France Asphalte. This will also be the case for Lebanon’s Elias Dehnin and Mexico’s Patrice Spitalier, who earned an entry thanks to his titles in the NACAM Junior Cup and the Rally5 category of the FIA NACAM Rally Championship.
Women’s category leader Marina Breuil will aim for another win over Élodie Gines and Margot Dupuy, who is determined to put her misfortune on the Touquet behind her. Two fierce competitors will also compete with Sarah Lattion, who has experience with Clio Trophy Swiss, and three-time French Women’s Rally Champion Allison Viano. The battle will also resume in the Men’s category, where Eric Royère will try to repeat his success by beating Jean-Pierre Lejeune and Dominique Patenotte, who will start his campaign in the Alpes-Maritimes.
Sylvain Janny also hopes to succeed, but will face newcomers Florian Picchioni, Matthieu Suzzarini and Franck Giraud, who has experience on the Antibes stages.
At the same time, Romain Di-Fante will continue its official program with Clio Rally4. The Nice driver will aim for his third category win in as many rallies to extend his lead in defense of his two-wheel drive national title. Pauline Dalmasso, the 2019 French Women’s Rally Champion, will also be behind the wheel of the Clio Rally4, as will Rémy Rota and Julien Brégeon, winner of the 2006 Rallye Jeunes detection and former Clio Trophy France Asphalte contender.
The 57th Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur kicks off the shakedown on Friday morning before hostilities begin on Saturday. Two loops of three special stages, the longest of which goes over the emblematic Col de Bleine, await the participants for a super special on the streets of Antibes. On Sunday, four timed sectors will be held. Along the mythical roads of La Bollène and the Col de Turini, SS10 will be the setting for the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage, which will bring bonus points. The 15 stages will be a total of 210.95 kilometers of action on a section of 664.35 km.bes Côte d’Azur. In this new round since the introduction of the Clio Rally5 in 2020, 40 teams will compete for the victory and the lead of the Clio Trophy France Asphalte.
image © DPPI / Alpine Racing