This week, the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT comes to life at Rally Poland (18-20 June). Created by Alpine Racing, Toksport WRT and FIA European Rally Championship promoter Eurosport Events, the only mixed surface competition dedicated to Clio Rally5 will welcome several crews in Mikołajki for the opening round of the season.
While many observers will be watching the gravel debut of Clio Rally4 with Jean-Baptiste Franceschi, Ola Jr Nore and Florian Bernardi, the show around the Mazurian lakes will also feature the launch of the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT.
Contested exclusively with the Renault Clio Rally5 prepared by Toksport WRT and shod on Michelin tyres, the new trophy will reward its first champion with a three-round programme with Clio Rally4 in the 2022 FIA ERC season. In this only turn-key, mixed-surface trophy complementary to the national trophies, Toksport WRT will offer its expertise to the first crews to join the adventure while ensuring absolute fairness among all the competitors.
On Friday, Italian hopeful Andrea Mabellini and Virginia Lenzi will be the first duo to set off on the roads of Rally Poland. The 2020 FIA RGT title winner will be one of the favourites thanks to his European rally experience which took him to second place in the 2020 ERC2 season.
"I am really happy to be part of the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT this year!" says Andrea Mabellini. "This will be a proper training ground for young drivers and I am proud to race with Toksport WRT, which is a top team! I hope to improve my driving skills, especially on gravel, and I want to thank everyone who is supporting me!"
As is always the case in Renault’s feeder series, there will be plenty of competition. Bastien Bergounhe, who has performed well in the French Gravel Rally Championship, will reunite with co-driver Mathieu Descharne in his debut at the European level.
"It is with motivation and ambition that we have decided to compete in the ERC this season," confides the young French driver. "We are proud to join the Alpine Racing family and the renowned Toksport WRT team. It’s a new challenge with a new team, a new car, new events, and we are very excited and will do our best!"
Ghjuvanni Rossi, who competed in Clio Trophy France last year, finished fourth in the RC5 class on 2021 Monte-Carlo Rally and scored a top ten finish in Clio Trophy Italia on Rallye Sanremo. With co-driver Baptiste Volpei by his side, the young Corsican driver will make his gravel debut this week to continue his learning process.
"I live in Corsica, an island where rallying is a religion, hence my passion for this sport ever since I was a child," he recalls. "I made my debut there in 2019 before competing in the Clio Trophy France in 2020. I only have a few rallies to my credit, so I will aim to gain as much experience as possible on different surfaces, but above all to be as efficient as possible to play the leading roles!"
After his time in the Turkish rallying scene, Yigit Alpaslan Timur and co-driver Ufuk Uluocak will also be in action. Winner of his category in the last edition of Rally Turkey Marmaris with Clio Rally5, he too should soon be a contender, especially in the gravel rounds.
"To compete in the ERC via this new Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT is an amazing opportunity," says the Turkish driver. "We are going to enjoy driving Clio Rally5 on some outstanding stages throughout the season. The level of competition is certainly going to be high, but that’s even better for improving ourselves!"
Lastly, the Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT has attracted interest well beyond the continent as Paulo Soria will also take on this unprecedented challenge. Having spent most of his career in his home country of Argentina, the national RC3 titleholder will take on Clio Rally5 and will rely on his experienced co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian to perform well from the word go.
"I am thrilled to join the Alpine Racing family," adds the lively Argentinean. "It’s a massive opportunity to learn while demonstrating my skills and experience. The Clio Trophy by Toksport WRT is an excellent programme with such a strong and competitive car as Clio Rally5. There is also unrivalled technical support from Toksport WRT. My co-driver has a lot of experience and we will work really hard to meet our targets: win the title and learn as much as possible!"
The 77th Rally Poland will start on Friday evening with a superspecial stage in Mikołajki. On Saturday, two identical loops of three tests await the crews before another superspecial. The following day, the crews will tackle four more tests, with the first two run twice early in the day. The FIA ERC will provide complete coverage of the event on its website and social networks.
For more information about Clio Trophy by Toksport, the calendar and prize packages go to ClioTrophy.Toksport.com.