Charles Martin and Christiane Nicolet won the third round of the Clio R3T France Trophy on Saturday at the Rallye du Limousin. The result hands Martin a clear lead in the overall standings at the halfway stage of the season.
Leader of the Clio R3T France Trophy going into this weekend and winner last time out in Antibes, Charles Martin made the perfect start in Limousin. However, after winning SS1, the Île-de-France driver then appeared somewhat subdued and lost the lead to Philippe Corneau, who scored two consecutive stage wins after making the right tyre choice. He therefore held a solid lead after SS3, ahead of Pascal Bérard (+38.6s), held up by a disconnected brake cable and a lack of confidence on a road surface with changing grip levels, and Charles Martin (+47.1s), who picked up a puncture. Further back, Damien Tozlanian, Kevin van Deijne and William Pitot battled for fourth place.
Philippe Corneau then had to retire on SS5 after a minor but race-ending off, leaving Charles Martin free to retake the lead ahead of Pascal Bérard and Kevin van Deijne. Bérard and van Deijne picked up a stage win apiece on the final two tests of Friday afternoon’s loop, enabling them to remain within striking distance of the Clio R3T France Trophy leader.
Kevin van Deijne was immediately into his stride on Saturday morning, grabbing the stage win on SS7. The Dutchman’s good form moved him ahead of Pascal Bérard, who then fought back on SS8 to reclaim second spot, 7.5s behind Charles Martin. The ding-dong battle between the two continued on the next test, won by van Deijne, who closed to within 2.7s of the leader. Stung into action, Martin responded on the following loop, with two consecutive stage wins to move clear of the field once more.
Van Deijne prevailed again on SS12 but could only make up 0.8s on his rival. Charles Martin rounded off the weekend with the fastest time on the Limoges super special stage to celebrate a second successive win in the Clio R3T France Trophy, as well as ending the rally as best Junior. He finished ahead of Kevin van Deijne, who underlined his growing confidence, Pascal Bérard and William Pitot. Philippe Rageau finished well clear of Damien Tozlanian to take fifth place. Seventh overall, Charlotte Dalmasso ended as the leading Female driver. Stéphane Boissy took the final classified spot, in eighth. With five stage wins, Charles Martin also won the maximum five points in the "Jean Ragnotti best performer" standings, ahead of Kevin van Deijne and Pascal Bérard.
Charles Martin therefore wins his first Rallye du Limousin, after several contrasting experiences in the last few years. “I’m pleased to win here. I had to get worked up in the afternoon because my rivals were coming back strongly behind me. This win is important for the Clio R3T Trophy," he concluded.
Manu Guigou’s fine performance in a Renault Clio R3T, not competing in the Trophy, did not go unnoticed. He finished ninth overall at the Rallye du Limousin, winning the R3 class.
Rallye du Limousin – Clio R3T France Trophy
1. Charles Martin – Christiane Nicolet 2:01:25.8
2. Kevin van Deijne – Hein Verschuuren +20.4
3. Pascal Bérard – Caroline Bérard +56.8
4. William Pitot – Romain Brun +1:59.6
5. Philippe Rageau – Alexandra Rageau +3:01.2
6. Damien Tozlanian – Pierre Blot +3:08.3
7. Charlotte Dalmasso – Marine Delon +3:39.0
8. Stéphane Boissy – Jérôme Bard +4:36.1
Jean Ragnotti best performer standings
1. Martin 5 points – 2. van Deijne 3 points – 3. Bérard 1 point
Overall standings (after round 3 of 6)
1. Charles Martin 70 points
2. Kevin van Deijne 36 pts
3. Benoît Vaillant 35 pts
3. Pascal Bérard 35 pts
5. Philippe Corneau 28 pts
6. William Pitot 24 pts
7. Rémi Jouines 21 pts
8. Damien Tozlanian 20 pts
9. Jérôme Chavannes 16 pts
10. Stéphane Boissy 12 pts
10. Charlotte Dalmasso 12 pts
12. Philippe Rageau 10 pts