Charles Martin, alongside co-driver Thierry Salva, finished first* at Rallye Mont Blanc Morzine in the Clio R3T France Trophy. With his fourth consecutive win, he secured the title ahead of the final round in November at Rallye du Var, chosen to replace the Critérium des Cévennes. Charles Martin will therefore drive a Renault Clio R3T at next year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2017 World Rally Championship.
Charles Martin is the overall winner of the Clio R3T France Trophy, having recorded his fourth victory in five starts at Morzine. Winner of the Twingo R1 Trophy in 2012, he notched up his second title in a Renault car. After starting the season with a fourth place finish in Lyon, he then triumphed in Antibes, Limoges, Rodez and then Morzine.
William Pitot and Kevin van Deijne were first off the mark in the Alps, as they claimed the opening two stage wins, with Pascal Bérard finishing both stages in the top three. But Charles Martin went fastest on SS3 to move into the lead at the mid-leg point of day one. In the afternoon, Pascal Bérard and Kevin van Deijne were again among the frontrunners. However, Charles Martin was more consistent and grabbed a stage win on SS6 to end day one in the lead, ahead of William Pitot (+22.4s) and Kevin van Deijne (+24.7s). Pascal Bérard was fourth, with a big lead over Frédéric Perriat, Stéphane Boissy and Charlotte Dalmasso, who were all battling for fifth place. Damien Tozlanian brought up the rear.
On Saturday, the Automeca Renault Clio R3T driver set the second fastest time on SS7, whilst Kevin van Deijne suffered a puncture on SS8 that put paid to any remaining hopes he harboured of winning the title. Charles Martin then won the next five stages in determined fashion, collecting 25 points for the win and the maximum five points in the "Jean Ragnotti best performer" standings, as well as finishing as the top Junior. With a total of 130 points, he wrapped up the Clio R3T France Trophy title with one round still to go, at Rallye du Var (25-27 November). The Mediterranean event replaces the Critérium des Cévennes, which was initially included in the Clio R3T France Trophy calendar but has been cancelled by the organisers.
William Pitot finished as runner-up, his first podium of the season, ahead of Pascal Bérard. Frédéric Perriat was fourth, ahead of Charlotte Dalmasso, the leading Female driver in the Trophy and now certain to win the Women’s French Rally Championship following this event! Kevin van Deijne, who remains second in the overall standings, finished three seconds behind Dalmasso in sixth. Stéphane Boissy came home after him and Damien Tozlanian, held up by two punctures, was the last finisher in the Trophy.
Behind Charles Martin, there is now a three-way fight to finish as the Clio R3T France Trophy overall runner-up. Eleven points separate Kevin van Deijne, Pascal Bérard and William Pitot ahead of the final round at Rallye du Var.
Jérôme Chavanne, competing in the Clio R3T ALPS Trophy, finished 17th overall in the Rallye Mont Blanc Morzine. Emmanuel Guigou, in a Renault Clio R3T (not competing in the Trophy), grabbed eleventh place overall and also won the R3 category.
"I’m very pleased to win this round and my third promotional formula in five years, the second with Renault Sport," revealed Charles Martin. "It’s my best race of the year so it’s especially pleasing to win the title on the back of such a performance at this rally. I was relaxed on Friday and I didn’t want to push too hard. On Saturday morning, after a radio issue on SS7, I decided to push and enjoy myself. I drove well from that point onwards and we set some excellent times."
"We’ve had a very good season. I’d like to thank the guys at Automéca, who have worked hard to help me feel more and more comfortable in the Renault Clio R3T. Leading from the front isn’t always the easiest position to be in, but we managed to cope with that and keep pushing. I’d also like to thank Thierry Salva, Matthieu Duval and Christiane Nicolet, my co-drivers this year, for their invaluable contributions."
"The prize for winning the Clio R3T France Trophy, competing at next year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo will be a great adventure," he continued. "I’ve never raced there and am very keen to take part, I can’t wait. The prospect is a little bit nerve-racking, as I’ve never driven in wintry conditions but I have a few months to prepare! I would like to thank Renault Sport in advance for the opportunity they have given me."
* Subject to the outcome of scrutineering held after the rally.
Clio R3T France Trophy – Rallye Mont Blanc – Morzine
1. Charles Martin – Thierry Salva 2:08:42.7
2. William Pitot – Romain Brun +1:28.3
3. Pascal Bérard – Caroline Bérard +1:55.2
4. Frédéric Perriat – Géraldine Robe +4:19.0
5. Kevin van Deijne – Hein Verschuuren +4:22.0
6. Stéphane Boissy – Jérôme Bard +4:58.0
7. Charlotte Dalmasso – Gwenëlle Le Poec +6:29.0
8. Damien Tozlanian – Pierre Blot +12:57.4
Jean Ragnotti best performer standings
1. Charles Martin 5 points – 2. William Pitot 3 pts – 3. Kevin van Deijne 1 pt
Overall standings (after round 5 of 6)
1. Charles Martin 130 points
2. Kevin van Deijne 68 pts
3. Pascal Bérard 60 pts
4. William Pitot 57 pts
5. Benoît Vaillant 35 pts