Behind the category dominator Florian Bernardi, other Clio R3T Trophy France competitors also stood out in 2018. Spotlight on Olivier Delaporte and Guillaume Jean, winners of the Gentlemen and Juniors categories.
Olivier Delaporte calls time on a brilliant run
Over the past decades, Olivier Delaporte has built a strong reputation in the French Rally Cup scene. In 2018, he chose to race in the Clio R3T Trophy France to discover a new generation of the Clio… For the record, he was the first in France to race a Renault Clio 3 in F2000 some years ago!
From the Rallye du Touquet, the Burgundy native was one of the fastest in the field, taking three stage wins to finish second behind Florian Bernardi. Forced to retire while battling for the top three on the Lyon-Charbonnières and Rouergue rounds, he skipped the Mont-Blanc to clinch his entry for the Coupe de France finale. Three weeks later, he returned to the Trophy, finishing third on the Cœur de France.
Guaranteed to finish as the best Gentlemen as his main rival sat out on the Var round, Olivier Delaporte was once again in the battle for a podium result before a puncture on the final special stage dropped him to eighth place.
“One of the highlights this year was my second place on the Touquet Rallye”, says Olivier Delaporte. “I wasn’t expecting such a result that soon! I wasn’t as fortunate after that with retirements due to going off the road and another due to a service problem, but I was back in the hunt at the Cœur de France and Var rounds. In the end, I just missed Mont-Blanc to score points and get my entry for the French Cup finale that was held near my home in Châlon-sur-Saone!”
Enough to make him want to come back to aim even higher?
“I have decided to take my foot off the gas after 26 years in the stages”, he explains. “Last winter, I bought Dorian Launay’s car and I have already sold it to a driver who is looking to do the Clio R3T Trophy France in 2019. As for me, I am putting together my son’s Clio Ragnotti for a few outings next year. Maybe we will see him in the Trophy in the future? I am not counting out doing a few rallies too! I do though want to thank Renault Sport. I have driven all the Clio models since the Clio Williams and they have always been reliable, with an efficient chassis and an easy handling. I would also like to thank with all my heart the entire Renault Sport team supporting us on the rallies for their reactiveness and their kindness, which I will never forget.”
Guillaume Jean blossomed among the Juniors
Just as experience pays off in the Gentlemen class, freshness paid off among the Juniors. After cutting his teeth on motorbikes, Guillaume Jean made the switch to cars in 2016 on the Sainte-Beaume Rallye... Where he took his Clio to victory in the N3 category before doing it again on other events.
Without further ado, he decided to continue his learning process by tackling the Clio R3T Trophy France. Just off the podium in his debut on the Touquet, Guillaume Jean then barrel-rolled on Lyon-Charbonnières. After that, he finished sixth at Rouergue and fourth on Mont-Blanc… Despite a roll in the opening special stage that cost him two minutes!
As Florian Bernardi skipped the Cœur de France, Guillaume Jean was immediately battling in the lead group and took the lead on the final special stage and went for the win by 2.2s, which is the smallest margin of victory in the history of the trophy.
The Rallye du Var featured a three-way battle between Guillaume Jean, Mathieu Walter and Thibaut Poizot to finish as the best Junior. Fifth early in the rally, Guillaume Jean turned up the wick on SS3 to move up to second place… Which he maintained and even pulled away from his rivals!
“It was a really great year”, sums up the Marseille native. “I wasn’t expecting to win the Cœur de France with the absence of the favorite, and even less so to end up as the best Junior or even second in the general classification! It was just my second season in rallying and my first real season in the French Championship. There was a lot of new stuff to get used to, and despite a few setbacks like my rolls on the Lyon-Charbonnières and Mont-Blanc, I gained experience. I know that there is still a lot more to learn. My goal now is to prepare myself properly this winter before doing the Clio R3T Trophy France again. The objective will be to win overall, but I know it will not be easy, because all the other competitors have the same target. Nevertheless, there will be some great battles and I’m already longing to get back at it!”
Second in the general classification and best Junior, Guillaume Jean is following the same line as Florian Bernardi, who did exactly the same thing one year ago… You know what happened next!