The Renault Clio R3T Trophy France returns to action this week in the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières for the first round of a season that promises to be incredibly competitive. 26 crews – or nearly a fourth of the field - will come together at Villefranche-sur-Saône to begin the campaign to see who will succeed Florian Bernardi.
To kick-off its fifth season, the Clio R3T Trophy France will represent the largest category in action on one of the most iconic rallies on the calendar. Known for its technical special stages and a high-grip level asphalt, the Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières welcomes 26 Clio R3T among whom it is very difficult to set a hierarchy before the start!
Second in the general classification and top Junior in 2018, Guillaume Jean intends to follow in the footsteps of Florian Bernardi, who accomplished the same exact results the year prior to winning the title.
The Marseille native knows that he will face very stiff competition. Among the contenders are his main rivals from 2018, Mathieu Walter, Damien Tozlanian or Boris Carminati, who finished runner-up in the Trophy on the “Charbo” in his debut last year.
Very much in the mix right from his first appearance on the Rallye du Var, multiple Italian Production and 2WD champion Ivan Ferrarotti also wants to be among the front-runners, as do newcomers Dorian Nicolas, winner of the R3 category during the Coupe de France des Rallyes finale in 2017, and Cédric Noe!
The battle between 2014 French Female Champion Charlotte Berton and Keana Erickson-Chang will also be worth keeping a close eye on. While the French driver knows the special stages around Villefranche-sur-Saône like the back of her hand, the American can rely on the experience of co-driver Alex Gelsomino to get up to speed for her first rally in Europe.
A Renault faithful since the start of his career, Yoann Lambert wants to test himself against new competitors such as Frank Badel, who returns to the Lyon-Charbonnières after several years of absence.
Youth in power
Multiple champion de classe en République Tchèque, Václav Stejskal Jr veut désormais faire ses preuves contre Romain Di Fante et Jérémy Jamet, deux anciens animateurs du Championnat de France Junior. Jérémy Jamet avait d’ailleurs remporté sa catégorie lors de l’édition 2016 du Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières. Enfin, Alexis Frontier endosse le rôle d’outsider en découvrant à la fois l’épreuve et le Trophée cette semaine !
Six crews are entered in the Junior category to succeed Guillaume Jean. Among them, José Javier Pérez hopes to build on the strong outings he put in on French roads last year to get the edge over William Pitot, who is determined to return to the sharp end of the order.
Multiple class champion in the Czech Republic, Václav Stejskal Jr. now wants to show his stuff against Romain Di Fante and Jérémy Jamet, two former standouts in the French Junior Championship. Jérémy Jamet won his category on the 2016 Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières. Alexis Frontier will be the outsider with his first start in this rally and the Trophy this weekend!
Gentlemen with ambitions
In the Gentleman category, the battle promises to be superb to be next to claim the top sport after Olivier Delaporte last year. Winner of the Clio R3T Trophy Alps, Olivier Courtois is the favourite, five years after his last participation in the event… When he finished on the R3 category podium!
Other regular Clio R3T competitors will also be on hand, like Pascal Bérard, sixth in 2016, Dominique Patenotte, who wants to make up for his retirement on the “Charbo” last year. Despite being first-timers in this round, Éric Filippi, Christophe Herbelin and Philippe Rageau will rely on their experience with the Clio R3T to maintain the advantage over three Trophy novices: Raphaël Marry, Guy Bertrand and Antoine La Rochefoucauld.
The Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières will begin on Thursday April 18 with the Limonset shakedown. On Friday, there will be two loops of three stages prior to the Marcy l’Étoile super-special. On Saturday, the competitors will run four stage twice. Among the changes for this year, there is the Chamelet – Oingt stage on the first leg and Mont Brouilly on the second. The 15 stages will feature 207.68 timed kilometres on the 711.26kms route.
Clio R3T Trophy France – Entry list
#33 Guillaume Jean — Loris Pascaud
#34 Mathieu Walter — Thibault Raincourt
#35 Damien Tozlanian — Jérémy Pacaud
#36 Boris Carminati — Marine Lacruz
#37 José Javier Pérez — Alberto Espino (J)
#38 Ivan Ferrarotti — Manuel Fenoli
#39 Václav Stejskal Jr — Stanislav Viktora (J)
#40 William Pitot — Romain Brun (J)
#41 Olivier Courtois — Hubert Risser (G)
#42 Pascal Bérard — Caroline Bérard (G)
#43 Romain Di Fante — Patrick Chiappe (J)
#44 Dorian Nicolas — Valentin Sarreaud
#45 Alexis Frontier — Julie Vidal (J)
#46 Jérémy Jamet — Michaël Secache (J)
#47 Éric Filippi — Francis Mazotti (G)
#48 Yoann Lambert — Maxime Biegalke
#49 Charlotte Berton — Cécile Pages (F)
#50 Cédric Noe — Alex Vignolle
#51 Philippe Rageau — Alexandra Rageau (G)
#52 Dominique Patenotte — Valentin Goutel (G)
#53 Franck Badel — Thierry Devaux
#54 Keana Erickson-Chang — Alex Gelsomino (F)
#55 Raphaël Marry — Jérôme Duc (G)
#56 Guy Bertrand — Karine Gehin (G)
#57 Antoine La Rochefoucauld — Sébastien Coutin (G)
#58 Christophe Herbelin — Loïc Boudaud (G)
(G): Gentlemen, drivers born in or before 1974
(J): Juniors, drivers born in or after 1991
April 18-20 : Rallye Lyon-Charbonnières
June 14-16 : Rallye Vosges Grand Est
July 4-6 : Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie
September 5-7 : Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
September 27-29 : Rallye Cœur de France
November 22-24 : Rallye du Var