While Michaël Burri leads the way in the standings, Olivier Courtois, who will have Hubert Risser alongside him, has no intention of giving up the fight. Following his retirement at the Rallye du Chablais, the Alsace driver is thinking only positive thoughts and is targeting victory in a tough event offering no second chances. As the experienced Courtois knows as well as anyone, nothing is decided in rallying until the final stage is run, which means he will be devoting all his craft and proven race pace to the pursuit of precious points when he takes to the start line on Friday.
Meanwhile, Michaël Burri will be looking to maintain his points lead, though judging by the intense testing session he put in last week in preparation for the event, there seems little chance of him easing off and going through the motions. After scoring maximum points in the Chablais, Michaël Burri and co-driver Anderson Levratti have had to put their Group R ambitions on hold to focus all their efforts on winner Clio R3T Alps Trophy, a tough decision to make for a crew that is as competitive as they come. The Rallye Ronde del Ticino nevertheless presents them with the opportunity to show that they rank among the Group R big guns in Switzerland and to demonstrate they are worthy frontrunners in the Clio R3T Alps Trophy.
Outsiders for the race win, Jean-Pierre Gatti and Bertand Chagot are waiting to pounce. Currently second in the Clio R3T Alps Trophy standings, they prepared for the Ticino by taking part in last weekend’s Rallye des Bornes, in Haute-Savoie, an event that allowed them to get back in the groove after their shock absorber problems at the Rallye du Chablais. With his home event, the Rallye du Mt-Blanc Morzine, to come in September, Jean-Pierre Gatti will be looking to consolidate his place in the standings at the midway point of the season.
Simon and Thibaud Rossel ready for Ticino test
The third event in a semi-official programme involving four Renault Clio R3T crews, the Rallye Ronde del Ticino is a special race for reigning Swiss junior rally champions Simon and Thibaud Rossel, who are looking forward to completing the apprenticeship they began at the Critérium Jurassien earlier this year. Faced with a considerable challenge in adapting from the Renault Twingo R1 they drove with such élan last year to the Renault Clio R3T, the pair need to get a lot of competitive driving under their belts to maximise the car’s full potential, a task to which they have been applying no little effort and dedication since the start of the season.
“After going off in the Critérium Jurassien, I was really on the defensive at the Rallye du Chablais,” said Simon Rossel. “Though I had fantastic support from the whole team throughout the weekend, I spent the whole race worrying about making another mistake. I got my confidence back on the last loop, though, and I can’t wait to get to the start line at the Ticino. I think I’ll be feeling calmer and less defensive. The Renault Clio R3T has tremendous potential and the team will give me the perfect set-up. I’ll be doing all I can to make the most of it.”
Kicking off in Lugano this coming Friday, the event should give Simon and Thibaud Rossel the chance to show why they ended the 2014 season as Swiss junior rally champions. You can follow the race at the official Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/championssuissesrallyejunior.