The final round in the history of the Clio R3T Trophy France at the Rallye du Var (22-24 November) promises to be a titanic duel for the crown and an entry in the 2020 Monte-Carlo Rally between Boris Carminati and Romain Di Fante.
For its last season before the introduction of New Clio Rally and the Clio Trophy France, the Clio R3T Trophy France season was as competitive as ever with a fascinating title battle and four different winners in the first five rounds of the year.
Contested during the 65th Rallye du Var, the title-decider will put Boris Carminati against Romain Di Fante. Boris Carminati took the lead at the beginning of the season and solidified his advantage when he became the first two-time winner this year last time out on the Rallye Cœur de France.
To clinch the title regardless of Romain Di Fante’s result, the Montpellier-native will have to finish in the top two, or third while also scoring three best-performer bonus points. The experience gained from his four previous starts in the rally are an advantage for Boris Carminati, who finished second in Clio Cup Rally there in 2006.
With top Junior for this season already guaranteed, Romain Di Fante will have to make up a 13-point deficit with the throwing out of the worst result of the campaign to hope to take the title. The driver from Nice is also a solid reference in the Var, where he scored his maiden victory in the French Junior Rally Championship back in 2014.
In addition to the fight for the title, there will be plenty of other excitement over the weekend like the battle for third place in the general classification.
With one podium and four top five results, Dorian Nicolas comes to the Var with a four-point advantage from Rally Vosges Grand-Est winner, Mathieu Walter. The winner of the R3 category in the 2017 French Rally Cup Final will nonetheless be a newcomer to the roads in and around Sainte-Maxime, where his challenger finished fourth last year.
Despite some outsiders missing out the final round, both will have to keep an eye on Alexis Frontier. Currently eighth, the Junior will also make his debut in the Var with a chance of finishing third if he wins and his rivals fail to score.
While Olivier Courtois already has one hand on the Gentleman trophy, his opponents want to make him pay for his absence.
After his fifth place on Rallye Cœur de France, Philippe Rageau will try to make up his 10-point deficit on a rally he has never driven before despite his vast experience. Third on the Var in 2016, then fourth in 2017, Pascal Bérard will also try to spring a surprise, but he will have to win or finish second with the maximum best performer bonus points to have any chance to finish ahead of the two favourites. As for Dominique Patenotte and Pascal Aimé, they have to win one of their favourite rally to upset the hierarchy!
The service park will also host several drivers who want to conclude their season in style, like Damien Tozlanian, Yoann Lambert and Václav Stejskal Jr, who are all quite familiar with the rally route.
Ineligible to points as they will make their first appearance of the season, Gentleman racers Patrick Romano and David Sauvaigo will come back in the category on a rally they both have done in the past. Meanwhile, two other drivers will make their debut in the trophy: Junior Jérôme Joyeux, a newcomer to both the Clio R3T and the Var roads, and David Rebotier, who is about to discover the Clio R3T for his fifth start in the event.
Held in and around Sainte-Maxime, the 65th Rallye du Var on Friday will feature three timed sectors on Friday. The crews will then contest on Saturday two identical three-stage loops divided by the longest stage of the leg at mid-day. The final four stages, including the fearsome Le Plan de la Tour test, on Sunday will wrap up the rally after 234.62kms of action.
Clio R3T Trophy France – Entry list
#61 Boris Carminati — Marine Lacruz
#62 Romain Di Fante — Patrick Chiappe (J)
#63 Dorian Nicolas — Valentin Sarreaud
#64 Mathieu Walter — Thibault Raincourt
#65 Alexis Frontier — Jérémy Gulino (J)
#66 Philippe Rageau — Alexandra Rageau (G)
#67 Damien Tozlanian — Jérémy Pacaud
#68 Yoann Lambert — Patrick Thierry
#69 Pascal Berard — Caroline Berard (G)
#70 Václav Stejskal Jr — Stanislav Viktora Jr (J)
#71 Jérôme Joyeux — Léa Bernardi (J)
#72 Dominique Patenotte — Pascal Deruem (G)
#73 Pascal Aimé — Stéphanie Aimé (G)
#74 David Rebotier — Jean-Luc Franco
#75 Patrick Romano — Patrick Guerrieri (G)
#76 David Sauvaigo — Stéphane Maille (G)