Opening up with back-to-back wins in the 2012 Twingo R2 France Trophy, Laurent Clutier had taken control at the top of the standings only for Romain Salinas to get the better of him in the third of the season’s six events. The battle between the two resumes at the 64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, and it promises to be an intriguing affair, with a handful of championship rivals also looking to get in on the act.
The opening three rounds of the 2012 Twingo R2 France Trophy have made their mark on the French Rally Championship season. The new Twingo R2 Evo has proved intensely competitive in a thrilling battle so far and has brought Renault Sport Technologies two landmark wins in the R2 class.
Engaged in a private duel in the first half of the season, Clutier and Salinas head to Morzine as clear favourites, and there is every prospect of them repeating last year’s tussle in the same event, which Clutier shaded by just 11 seconds.
Fourth on that occasion, Georges Gonon will be aiming even higher this time, though he can expect stiff competition from Yann Clairay and Thierry Monnet, two other podium candidates who are also anxious to notch their maiden wins in the category. Still learning their trade, Jonathan Fra and Mathieu Sentis have another opportunity to show their progress in an event unlike any other they have come across so far this season.
Making his Twingo R2 France Trophy debut at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine is Yohann Trivino, who has already caught the eye at the wheel of the Clio Renaultsport R3 and the Twingo R2 Evo.
Belgian drivers Lloyd Seminara and Laurent Wilkin will face very different conditions to the ones they find at home. Wilkin, winner of the 2012 Volant ASAF, will be out to build on his excellent showing in the Rallye Aveyron two months ago.
Competing outside the Trophy, meanwhile, reigning French Junior Rally champion Nicolas Romiguiere will hope to continue his impressive form in the Twingo R2 Evo. A week on from his fine showing at the inaugural Rallye Terre de Lozere, the Aveyron driver will be back on the asphalt at Morzine and determined to show his full potential alongside the Twingo R2 France Trophy field.
Taking place over Friday and Saturday, the 64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine comprises 217 timed kilometres spread over 11 special stages.
64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
42. Laurent Clutier/Brice Brun
43. Romain Salinas/Benjamin Micheli
44. Georges Gonon/Valerie Gonon
45. Yann Clairay/Isabelle Sicard
46. Thierry Monnet/Cedric Hugonnot
47. Jonathan Fra/Thierry Salva
48. Mathieu Sentis/Gil Valette
49. Lloyd Seminara/Jean-Louis Hottelet
50. Laurent Wilkin/Eric de Bolle
51. Yohann Trivino/Christophe Fournier
Friday 7 September
08.00 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
08.45 : SS1 Montriond-le-Lac (12.20 km)
09.16 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
09.49 : SS2 Morzine – Samoens (21.12 km)
11.27 : SS3 Sommand – Praz de Lys (27.52 km)
15.25 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
16.53 : SS4 Samoens – Morillon (14.90 km)
17.30 : SS5 Samoens – Morzine (20.32 km)
18.06 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
18.46 : Finish (Morzine)
Saturday 8 September
07.30 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
08.12 : SS6 Morzine – Montrions (22.30 km)
08.54 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
09.32 : SS7 La Cote-d’Arbroz – Praz de Lys – Sommand (28.60 km)
11.00 : SS8 Morzine – Samoens (21.12 km)
14.20 : Transfer stage (Morzine)
15.34 : SS9 Samoens – Morillon (14.90 km)
17.09 : SS10 Samoens – Morzine (20.32 km)
17.54 : SS11 Morzine – Les Lindarets (13.98 km)
18.44 : Finish (Morzine)
Twingo R1 France Trophy : Overall standings (after three rounds of six)
1. Laurent CLUTIER, 68 points
2. Romain SALINAS, 55
3. Georges GONON, 31
4. Thierry MONNET and Yann CLAIRAY, 30
6. Jonathan FRA, 22
7. Mathieu SENTIS, 16
8. Anthony BALESTER, 14
9. Lloyd SEMINARA, 10