Having finished as runner-up three times in the first half of the season, Florian Bernardi and Xavier Castex finally managed to beat Cédric Robert and Matthieu Duval! Bernardi was in irrepressible form at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, winning ten of the twelve stages. The podium was completed by Pascal and Caroline Bérard, who had to fight hard to hold off Perriat and Bessonnet.
The rally had nonetheless got off to a poor start for Florian Bernardi on Friday morning. The young Vaucluse driver spun on the opening Joux Verte stage, wet and slippery after heavy rain, leaving Cédric Robert to grab the early lead. Determined not to allow the situation to play out in the same way as in the previous three rallies, Bernardi wasted no time in fighting back. With two stage wins, he made up the ground lost on the first stage to move into the lead after SS3.
Behind the front two of Bernardi and Robert, the gaps remained relatively small between Pascal Bérard, Frédéric Perriat, Damien Tozlanian, Kevin van Deijne, Pascal Aimé and Eric Filippi.
Florian Bernardi maintained his rich vein of form to claim another three stage wins in the afternoon. He returned to Morzine at the end of day one as the clear leader, some 32.6s ahead of Cédric Robert. Pascal Bérard, who had lost third place to Frédéric Pierrat after SS5, held the final podium spot, just 4/10ths clear of his rival! Damien Tozlanian rounded off the top five, 46s ahead of Van Deijne. Meanwhile, seventh-placed Eric Filippi finished the day ahead Pascal Aimé.
For Saturday’s second leg, the crews were again greeted by rain and fog. Bernardi immediately added another stage win to his collection, but Robert reminded everyone of what he is capable by winning SS8!
It was however the fight for the final podium spot that provided the most excitement. Faster than Bérard on the last two stages of the morning, Perriat moved back ahead. However, on SS10, between Morillon and Samoëns, Perriat had trouble with his brakes and lost two minutes. Perriat was forced to retire following the stage, leaving the way clear for Pascal Bérard to go on to claim another podium finish to go with the one he secured in Antibes.
Florian Bernardi won the last three stages of the rally to confirm his first win in the Clio R3T Trophy France. He also scored maximum points for the best performer, won the R3 class and finished 11th overall, 17.6s ahead of Manu Guigou’s Clio R3.
Damien Tozlanian just missed out on a podium spot, but his fourth place earned him precious points and enabled him to close the gap in the standings to Kevin van Deijne, who finished fifth this weekend. Pascal Aimé was sixth after having got the better of Eric Filippi, whilst Frédéric Flajolet, Romuald Lezeau and Sara Williams were a long way back at the finish.
The Rallye Mont Blanc Morzine was also a round of the Clio R3T Alps Trophy: Olivier Courtois prevailed, ahead of Philippe Broussoux and Jean-Pierre Gatti.
The next round of the Clio R3T Trophy France will be held as part of the Rallye Cœur de France, on 29-30 September.
Florian Bernardi: "It’s really not easy to beat a driver of the calibre of Cédric Robert so I’m absolutely delighted. Even with a thirty-second lead at the start of day two, I didn’t ease off because I knew that I wasn’t out of the woods and that he could make a fightback. Right from the word go, we found the right set-up with the team and I was comfortable throughout the rally. I hope I’ll be able to compete at the Rallye Cœur de France; the budget isn’t finalised but this win will help matters. We’re going to work hard to make it happen!"
"It’s really not easy to beat a driver of the calibre of Cédric Robert so I’m absolutely delighted. Even with a thirty-second lead at the start of day two, I didn’t ease off because I knew that I wasn’t out of the woods and that he could make a fightback. Right from the word go, we found the right set-up with the team and I was comfortable throughout the rally.
Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
Clio R3T Trophy France results
1. Florian Bernardi – Xavier Castex 2:13:10.8
2. Cédric Robert – Matthieu Duval +1:08.7
3. Pascal Bérard – Caroline Bérard +5:56.7
4. Damien Tozlanian – Pierre Blot +7:42.4
5. Kevin van Deijne – Kris Botson +10:14.4
6. Pascal Aimé – Morgan Aimé +11:04.3
7. Eric Filippi – Francis Mazotti +11:59.0
8. Frédéric Flajolet – Christophe Leroy +16:45.4
9. Romuald Lezeau – Loïc Boudaud +21:17.7
10. Sara Williams – Mark Glennerster +4:29:49.9
Clio R3T Trophy France overall standings (after the fourth round)
1. Cédric Robert, 111 points
2. Florian Bernardi, 93 points
3. Kevin Van Deijne, 50 points
4. Damien Tozlanian, 42 points
5. Pascal Bérard, 31 points
6. Pascal Aimé, 16 points
7. Jean-Paul Monnin, 15 points
8. Frédéric Perriat, 14 points
9. Fréderic Flajolet, 14 points
10. Michele Tassone, 12 points
11. Philippe Rageau, 8 points
12. Stéphane Gragnola, 6 points
13. Eric Filippi, 6 points
14. Sara Williams, 5 points
15. Dominique Patenotte, 4 points
16. Romuald Lezeau, 2 points
17. David Sauvaigo, 1 point