Romain Di Fante capitalised on Thomas Chauffray’s only misstep to jump into the lead and cruise to his first Clio Trophy France Asphalte victory of the season. Winner of the Rallye Vosges Grand Est ahead of Benjamin Stirling and Styve Juif, the driver from Nice takes the lead in the general classification and extends the gap on top of the Junior category.
Winner of round one two weeks ago in Touquet, Thomas Chauffray got off to a flying start by winning all three stages on Friday morning to return to the service park with a 10-second lead over Romain Di Fante. Romain Fostier was third at 14.8s to the leader. Meanwhile, the roads of the Vosges claimed their first victims: John Laroche on SS1, but also François Fraymouth, who ran over a poorly positioned manhole cover on the dreaded Corcieux timed sector.
The afternoon stages too offered little respite, including for some of the contenders for victory. Thomas Chauffray was again the fastest on SS4, but Romain Fostier and Jonathan Grande retired, while others, like Maxime Braesch, had to deal with punctures. Relegated to 15.5s to the leader, Romain Di Fante battled back on the second running of the Corcieux stage before Thomas Chauffray found himself stuck in a ditch on the last stage of the day. With the best time, Romain Di Fante inherited the top spot with a more than one-minute lead from Benjamin Sterling and a group including Styve Juif, Tom Pieri, Valentin Ascenzi and Maxime Braesch.
On Saturday, the battle for third place intensified led by Maxime Braesch before Romain Di Fante set the pace on Pays d’Ormont, which was initially supposed to host the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage before it was neutralised after Valentin Ascenzi’s misadventures, then postponed to the next stage. Romain Fostier returned after retiring the day before and clocked the quickest time to pocket the maximum of ten bonus points ahead of Thomas Chauffray, Maxime Braesch, Tom Pieri and Antoine Massé.
On the final loop, Maxime Braesch went on the offensive and made the most of the puncture suffered by Tom Pieri to move up to fourth place on SS11 before cutting the gap to 7.4s from Styve Juif, but he successfully defended his position.
Romain Di Fante showed tremendous maturity to take the win, 40.4s ahead of Benjamin Stirling and 58.1s ahead of Styve Juif, both of whom claimed their first Clio Trophy France Asphalte podiums. Despite the puncture that cost him nearly 90 seconds on Friday, Maxime Braesch finished fourth ahead of Tom Pieri and Damien Mattei, who set the fastest time on SS14. Jérémy Sarhy completed a top seven monopolised by the Junior drivers, ahead of Antoine Massé, Émilien Sanlaville and Bertrand Blondel la Rougery. Richard Paget won the Gentlemen’s category, as did Sarah Filipe in the Female class after Margot Dupuy went off in the last stage.
With the victory, Romain Di Fante takes command of the Clio Trophy France Asphalte with a 19-point lead over Thomas Chauffray. Antoine Massé remains third, four points further back, but just one ahead of Styve Juif and two ahead of Tom Pieri. In the teams classification, Europe Location still leads from Naudon Rallye Service and Fun Meca Sport while Grands Moulins Auto moves to the top of the order in the Renault Dealership Challenge. Meanwhile, Thomas Anacleto is the first leader of the Philippe Bugalski Challenge thanks to his win with his Clio S1600.
The next round of the calendar will take the Clio Trophy France Asphalte and Philippe Bugalski Challenge competitors to Rallye Aveyron Rouergue Occitanie (8-10 July). The crews will complete the first half of the season there before the summer break ending at the Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine (2-4 September).
Romain Di Fante: "It was a very long rally. On Friday, we had an offensive pace without taking any risks. We saw in the tricky sections that we could run up front, but we didn’t try as the main target was to stay on top among the Juniors. The rallying vagaries meant we inherited a one-minute lead at the start of the last leg. This is something I had never experienced before and the day seemed like it would never end! Since the start of the year, I have worked a lot on race management and it finally paid off because I could have made a costly mistake in this situation until recently. This weekend, Patrick and I were probably the most consistent crew and we are now looking forward to Rouergue, where we will continue our work to keep this line and fulfill our objectives of winning in the Junior category."
Rallye Vosges Grand Est
2021 Clio Trophy France Asphalte
1. Romain Di Fante - Patrick Chiappe (J) 2h06:46.0s
2. Benjamin Stirling - Florence Wehrey (J) +40.4s
3. Styve Juif - Maxime Biegalke (J) +58.1s
4. Maxime Braesch - Loick Andre (J) +1:21.8s
5. Tom Pieri - Arnaud Dunand (J) +2:04.9s
6. Damien Mattei - Marine Pelamourgues (J) +3:06.5s
7. Jeremy Sarhy – Amélie Pierron (J) +4:09.9s
8. Antoine Masse - Marc Haddad +4:48.0s
9. Emilien Sanlaville - Amaury Sanlaville (J) +5:08.1s
10. Bertrand Blondel la Rougery - Yoann Raffaelli (J) +5:16.1s
11. Tom Rensonnet - Renaud Herman (J) +5:44.0s
12. Sacha Althaus - Lisiane Zbinden (J) +6:07.3s
13. Sébastien Rambaud – Nicolas Febvre (J) +6:17.9s
14. Richard Paget - Sebastien Poujol (G) +7:55.1s
15. Yohan Saillat - Sylvain Kukulka +9:315s
16. Jérôme Janny - Clement Gutierrez +11:00.1s
17. Charley Trevilly - Corentin Dodard +12:04.4s
18. Christophe Nosjean - Julien Sahraoui +16:19.1s
19. Rodrigue Delassus - Thomas Lejosne +25:59.8s
20. Sarah Filipe - Manon Hailloud (J/F) +35:21.7s
21. Thomas Chauffray – Pauline Vaultier +3h08:25.2s
22. Romain Fostier - Ophelie Abchiche +3h30:06.0s
Ab. Margot Dupuy - Clio Chambelland (F)
Ab. Jonathan Grande - Sandrine Guirado (J)
Ab. John Laroche - Melvin Fraigne
Ab. Valentin Ascenzi - Julien Tramaloni (J)
Ab. Loïc Mattei - Laurent Magat
Ab. Julien Pontal - Loan Biagetti (J)
Ab. Francois Fraymouth - Romain Felicelli