Clio Rally4 scored its first success on the international stage at Rally Liepāja, round two of the FIA European Rally Championship. Driven by Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, the latest car designed by the Viry-Châtillon and Dieppe teams won not only in FIA ERC3 but also in FIA ERC3 Junior and the two-wheel-drive category.
Having already won on French and Spanish tarmac, Clio Rally4 keeps the momentum going with this first triumph on gravel.
Two Clio Rally4s were entered by Toksport WRT and driven by Jean-Baptiste Franceschi and Ola Jr Nore in the second FIA ERC event of 2021. Both immediately shot to the top of the order as the Frenchman won the first two stages before receiving a penalty for a misunderstanding at a checkpoint.
Despite this setback relegating him to fourth place, the French Gravel Rally Champion was not about to throw in the towel and continued to push to showcase all the qualities of his Clio Rally4. His efforts paid off on SS9, where he set the fastest time and took advantage of his rivals’ mistakes to move up to second place ahead of the final loop.
With three more top-three finishes to his credit, Jean-Baptiste Franceschi led Clio Rally4 to its first European podium despite a 70-second penalty before the leader was disqualified after the rally for the use of a non-compliant part.
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi sealed Clio Rally4’s first international win by over two minutes. The Frenchman not only won in FIA ERC3, but also took top honours in the FIA ERC3 Junior and two-wheel drive categories in this first success for Clio Rally4 on gravel.
The next outing for Clio Rally4 in FIA ERC will be Rally di Roma Capitale on 23-25 July.
Jean-Baptiste Franceschi: "I am thrilled with this result. We were fast and always in the battle for the win against the local and Scandinavian drivers, which is an extremely positive point on such a fast surface, especially as this was only our second rally with Clio Rally4. The team did a great job during testing, and that allowed us to be competitive from the start and avoid troubles. We have made a big step forward since Poland and I am looking forward to returning on tarmac to confirm our form and take maximum points in the upcoming rounds."
Benoît Nogier, Alpine Racing Commercial Racing Director: "We are very pleased to see Clio Rally4 take its maiden win on gravel just a few weeks after having done so on tarmac. This victory is all the more significant as it’s Clio Rally4’s first in international competition in the most competitive two-wheel-drive championship in the world. This result would not have been possible without the composed and mature drive of Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, but also to the hard work of our partners at Toksport WRT, which continues to establish themselves as one of the leading structures in rallying. We now look forward to heading to Rome to confirm the potential of Clio Rally4 on all surfaces and competitions!"