Martin holds off Bernardi

A winner at Le Touquet earlier this year, Charles Martin picked up his second Twingo R1 France Trophy success of the season at the 39th “Rouergue – Midi-Pyrenees” Rallye Aveyron. Leading the way from start to finish, Martin came home first ahead of Florian Bernardi, who went fastest in the special stages as a whole. Romain Fostier completed the podium, while Frederic Hauswald finished third in the Juniors’ competition.

The third rally of the season got under way in sun-kissed Campouriez with a lengthy 25.80 km special stage, with Martin posting the fastest time ahead of Jeremie Serieys, Damien Defert, Frederic Hauswald, Romain Fostier, Florian Bernardi, Yohan Saillat, Antoine Masse, Jean-Baptiste Dunand and Jean-Rene Perry.

Taking confidence from his flying start, Martin chalked up two more fastest times before having to make do with second place in the opening day’s final special, held at night. Despite going fastest in SS4, Bernardi nevertheless found himself 30.3 seconds adrift of the race leader by the time the field returned to Rodez, a gap that would have been smaller had he not incurred a ten-second penalty for jumping the start earlier in the day.

Serieys, Fostier and Hauswald completed the top five at the end of day one, all of them within a minute of the leader. Meanwhile, Dorian Nicolas was forced to retire at the end of SS1, and Defert, who had worked himself into the top three at one stage, lost two minutes when his gearbox support broke on a corner in SS2 and then suffered a puncture on the very next special. Elsewhere, Thibaut Fohrer went off in SS3 and Perry in the following special, with both drivers having to retire.

Bernardi began a long second day in hot pursuit of Martin, going quickest in four of the first six specials, with the race leader taking the honours in the other two.

By the end of Saturday’s stages, the chasing Bernardi had closed the gap on Martin to 10.3 seconds, with Fostier over a minute back in third, ahead of Hauswald and Serieys. Adding their names to the list of retired drivers were Segolene Couturier, Arnaud Genesca and Romain Audet, all of whom went off the road.

The top two continued their duel on the roads of the Aveyron the following day. And though Bernardi pushed hard to record two more fastest times, he was made to rue that ten-second penalty on day one, the final gap separating him from Martin being a mere 8.1 seconds. It was a luckless final day also for Yohan Saillat and Gabriel Lieffroy, who dropped out of the top ten after suffering a puncture and gearbox problems respectively.

First in Le Touquet and third in Limoges, Martin collected his second success of the campaign ahead of Bernardi and Fostier, the only “non-junior” in the standings. The rest of the points went to Hauswald, Serieys, Dunand, Masse, Jean Jouines, Defert and Jean-Charles Mougin, with 16 drivers completing the rally in all.

Afterwards Martin had this to say: “We came to Rodez with the intention of winning, and it’s the first time I’ve had to lead out a rally like this. We took the race lead right at the start and quickly built up a gap, which I then had to sit on. We managed to keep Florian Bernardi at bay in the end, and hold on for the win, which has allowed us to open up a bit of a gap in the championship.”

“We lost a lot of time in the first two stages, and it’s very frustrating to come up short by only eight seconds,” said Bernardi. “It’s a good result, though, because it gets us back into the championship, though we’ll need to get a win quickly. That’s the objective in the second half of the season.”

“Rouergue – Midi-Pyrenees” Rallye Aveyron
Fastest times: Charles Martin and Florian Bernardi, 7.
Race leader: Charles Martin (SS1 to 14 - finish).

Final standings
1. Charles MARTIN/Romain DEVOS: 2:40.294
2. Florian BERNARDI/Victor BELLOTTO: +0:08.1
3. Romain FOSTIER/Ophelie ABCHICHE: +1:34.3
4. Frederic HAUSWALD/ Sebastien POUJOL: +1:43.5
5. Jeremie SERIEYS/ Justine QUILLET: +2:03.8
6. Jean-Baptiste DUNAND/Yannick DEBORNES: +2:59.5
7. Antoine MASSE/Mathieu FAVREAU: +3:10.4
8. Jean JOUINES/Jean-Rene VILLANI: +4:13.9
9. Damien DEFERT/Florent DIOTTIN: +5:02.8
10. Jean-Charles MOUGIN/Kevin BRONNER: +5:52.7
11. Gabriel LIEFFROY/Laurine EHRHARDT: +6:25.2
12. Simon LEBIEZ/Gwenaelle DHOTE: +6:46.5
13. Yohan SAILLAT Julien MARTY: +7:29.4
14. Romain AUVERT/Maxime BELIVIER: +8:03.0
15. Julien RAMBAULT/Adrien MERCERON: +11:13.4
16. Roman FERRERO/Maxime MORIN: +12:01.7

Twingo R1 France Trophy: Overall standings
1. Charles MARTIN: 65 pts
2. Romain FOSTIER: 40
3. Damien DEFERT: 39
4. Florian BERNARDI: 36
5. Jeremie SERIEYS: 26
6. Antoine MASSE: 22
7. Julien RAMBAULT: 18
8. Frederic HAUSWALD: 12
9. Jean-Rene PERRY: 10
10. Jean-Baptiste DUNAND: 8