Winners of the opening round at Le Touquet, Cédric Robert and Matthieu Duval confirmed their supremacy in the Clio R3T Trophy France. The pair led from start to finish to win the second round of the Trophy, contested at the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur. Second in the opening stages of the race, Pascal and Caroline Bérard ended up third, behind Florian Bernardi and Xavier Castex.
Featuring some of the stages that have achieved iconic status at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur was held this weekend in springlike weather conditions. Sunshine and blue skies meant the competitors could go for it, no holds barred, on some very demanding stages such as the Col de Bleine, Col de Lantosque or the Col de Turini.
On Saturday, Cédric Robert was the first to strike. At the end of SS1, the winner at Le Touquet was ahead of Auvergne driver Pascal Bérard, who is invariably very comfortable on these roads. Kevin Van Deijne was third, ahead of Florian Bernardi, Damien Tozlanian, Pascal Aimé, Stéphane Gragnola, Frédéric Flajolet, David Sauvaigo and Sara Williams.
The young British driver suffered a difficult start to the race, since she lost more than six minutes on SS3 due to a puncture.
On SS2, Florian Bernardi dropped around twenty seconds when he went off the road. The Vaucluse driver immediately struck back as he claimed the stage win on SS3. He moved up into third overall and ahead of Kevin Van Deijne.
Following the mid-leg service, Bernardi kept up his good form: after SS7, he managed to overtake Bérard in the standings.
On Saturday evening, Cédric Robert led by almost half a minute from Florian Bernardi. 45s adrift of the leader, Pascal Bérard remained in contention. At that stage of the race, Kevin Van Deijne was already more than a minute off the pace. With sizeable gaps between them, Tozlanian, Aimé, Gragnola, Flajolet, Sauvaigo and Williams completed the standings.
Sunday’s second and final leg saw the competitors tackle the famous Col de Turini. The top three drivers continued to push: Robert, Bérard and Bernardi each claimed a stage win on SS9, SS10 and SS11!
Following the morning loop, the Clio R3T Trophy France witnessed its only retirement of the weekend as David Sauvaigo decided to drop out (for personal reasons), handing ninth place to Sara Williams.
Robert, Bérard and Bernardi were once again the quickest drivers in the afternoon loop. Back in Antibes, Cédric Robert drove onto the top of the podium as winner, having won seven of the fourteen stages.
Despite never having competed on these roads before, Florian Bernardi could take considerable pride from having given drivers far more experienced than himself a run for their money. And although he finished just outside of the podium places, Kevin Van Deijne nonetheless moved up to third in the overall standings.
Rallye Antibes Côte d’Azur standings
1. Robert / Duval 2:20:26.0
2. Bernardi / Castex +13.0
3. Berard / Berard +28.6
4. Van Deijne / Verschuuren +1:13.4
5. Tozlanian / Blot +3:46.0
6. Aimé / Aimé +6:09.9
7. Cragnola / Duchemin +7:43.4
8. Flajolet / Leroy +11:31.8
9. Williams / Glennerster +19:27.0
1. Cédric Robert, 60 points
2. Florian Bernardi, 42 points
3. Kevin Van Deijne, 25 points
4. Damien Tozlanian, 20 points
5. Pascal Bérard, 16 points
6. Jean-Paul Monnin, 15 points
7. Frédéric Flajolet, 10 points
8. Frédéric Perriat, 8 points
9. Pascal Aimé, 8 points
10. Stéphane Gragnola, 6 points
11. Sara Williams, 2 points