Princen eyes up payback

After making a flawless start to the season, Kris Princen was forced to retire in June’s Rallye Vins Macon, giving Eric Mauffrey the chance to notch a maiden win in the 2012 Renault Sport France Challenge in his Clio Renaultsport R3. Now second in the standings behind Mauffrey, Princen has his sights set on revenge on the roads of Mont-Blanc this weekend.

Seven Clio Renaultsport R3s will be lining up for the start of the 64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, the fourth leg of this year’s Renault Sport France Challenge.
A runner-up to Princen in the season’s opening two events, Mauffrey took full advantage of the Belgian’s retirement in Macon to record his first victory in the category. And with three podium finishes to his name in the season’s first three races, the man from the Vosges leads the standings by 11 points at the halfway stage of the championship.

Second-placed Princen remains well in contention for another title in his Clio Renaultsport R3, though he cannot afford to let the championship frontrunner pull away at this stage of the proceedings.

Benoit Vaillant turned in a feisty display at Macon, pushing Mauffrey all the way to the line. That performance will give him plenty of encouragement ahead of the second half of the campaign. A mere 16 points off the pace, Vaillant is still very much in the title hunt.

Alsace’s Olivier Courtois and Isere’s Damien Tozlanian have also been in fine form of late and should feature strongly on a race route that ought to suit them.

Three times a winner in the Twingo R2 Evo in Italy this year, Mikko Pajunen is all set to try his hand in the Clio Renaultsport R3 but will be hoping to fare better than on his last appearance on French soil, which came in the 2011 Rallye du Var and ended in retirement.

Local driver Jerome Chavanne has plenty of experience on the roads of Mont-Blanc and could well be in the picture come Saturday. Having missed a podium place in his last four outings, however, Chavanne will be hoping his luck changes fast.

Comprising 11 special stages held on Friday and Saturday, this year’s rally will take place on a very compact route in the Morzine area.

64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
26. Eric Mauffrey/Julien Rebut (Clio Renaultsport R3)
27. Kris Princen/Bram Eelbode (Clio Renaultsport R3)
28. Benoit Vaillant/Henri-Pierre Morin (Clio Renaultsport R3)
29. Olivier Courtois/Hubert Risser (Clio Renaultsport R3)
30. Damien Tozlanian/Florine Alphand (Clio Renaultsport R3)
31. Mikko Pajunen/Kaj Lindstrom (Clio Renaultsport R3)
32. Jerome Chavanne/Alex Chioso (Clio Renaultsport R3)

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)

Renault Sport France Challenge: Overall standings (after three rounds of six)
1. Eric Mauffrey, 61 points
2. Kris Princen, 50
3. Benoit Vaillant, 45
4. Herve Paternot and Olivier Courtois, 15
6. David Deloy, 12
7. Thierry Venturini, 10
8. Damien Tozlanian, 8