Twice a winner at the start of the season, Kris Princen claimed his third victory of the 2012 Renault Sport France Challenge at the 64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine. Eric Mauffrey took second to stay top of the overall standings with two events still to go, while Jerome Chavanne was third, his first podium finish.
There was a surprise start to the event as Mikko Pajunen won the first special stage at the summit of the Col de Joux-Verte, the Finn ending six seconds clear of Eric Mauffrey, with Kris Princen and Benoit Vaillant a further two and three seconds back respectively.
Pajunen failed to maintain his fast start, however, going off in SS2, also on the Col de Joux-Plane, and limping out of the race. Taking his place at the top of the leaderboard was Kris Princen, who led from Benoit Vaillant, Jerome Chavanne and Olivier Courtois, while brake problems caused Eric Mauffrey to lose the best part of half a minute.
By the end of leg one, Kris Princen had stretched his lead over Benoit Vaillant slightly, while Eric Mauffrey climbed back into third ahead of Jerome Chavanne and Olivier Courtois, with Damien Tozlanian sixth.
Benoit Vaillant began leg two on the charge, posting the fastest time on SS6 to close in on the race leader only to then lose six minutes after puncturing on the rally’s longest special stage. That allowed Eric Mauffrey to jump back into second, while Jerome Chavanne beat Olivier Courtois into third.
Attempting to make up the deficit, Olivier Courtois went off in SS8 and was forced to retire. Meanwhile, Kris Princen made the most of Benoit Vaillant’s problems to extend his advantage over Eric Mauffrey and Jerome Chavanne, though Vaillant hit back as the race reached its conclusion, posting three fastest times in a row to snatch fourth place from Damien Tozlanian.
64th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine - 2012 Renault Sport France Challenge
Fastest times: Kris Princen 6, Benoit Vaillant 4, Mikko Pajunen 1
Leaders: Mikko Pajunen (SS1), Kris Princen (SS2 to 11 - finish)
1. Kris PRINCEN/Bram EELBODE, 2:16.55.8
2. Eric MAUFFREY/Julien REBUT, +1:06.4
3. Jerome CHAVANNE/Alexandre CHIOSO, +2:49.8
4. Benoit VAILLANT/Henri Pierre MORIN, +6:13.9
5. Damien TOZLANIAN/Florine ALPHAND, +6:25.8
2012 Renault Sport France Challenge standings (after four rounds of six rounds)
1. Eric Mauffrey, 79 points
2. Kris Princen, 75
3. Benoit Vaillant, 57