Engaged in another fantastic duel with Boris Carminati on Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine, Florian Bernardi pushed his rival into an unforced error to take the win. With his third triumph of the season, the Vaucluse native is the latest laureate of the Clio R3T Trophy France with two rounds still to go in 2018.
Friday morning, the 70th Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine kicked off with a bang on the fearsome Joux Verte special stage. Boris Carminati set the first scratch time, 1.2s quicker than Florian Bernardi. Third on the stage, Mathieu Walter was already more than 30 seconds behind, but ahead of Damien Tozlanian and Thibaut Poizot.
Boris Carminati was unbeatable on the first loop, taking best time on all three stages to push his lead to 7.9s from the Clio R3T Trophy France leader. Third place, Mathieu Walter lost a ton of time on SS4, before retiring, as did Yann Mogno when his co-driver took ill. Damien Tozlanian moved up to third ahead of a group of five drivers led by Thibaut Poizot.
Florian Bernardi came back on the evening stages, taking his own treble of fastest times, trimming the gap to 1.9s from Boris Carminati prior to the final special stage of day one, which was eventually cancelled due to spectators in a no go zone. Damian Tozlanian was third at more than two minutes to the leaders, but 14.2s ahead of Thibaut Poizot. José Javier Pérez, Yves Gire, Pascal Aimé, Guillaume Jean, Éric Filippi and Alex Sabater completed the top ten.
On Saturday, Florian Bernardi went on the attack straight away, setting best time on Praz de Lys, 13.8s quicker than Boris Carminati, who won the following timed sector to claw back 1.9s on SS10.
The first run through the longest stage of the day, Samoëns-Morzine, created the first drama of the rally. While Florian Bernardi suffered minor contact, Boris Carminati lost nearly two minutes when he went off the road. He managed to hold on to second place as he made his way to the service park. Further back, Thibaut Poizot ran consistently to now trail Damien Tozlanian by four seconds, while Guillaume Jean overtook Pascal Aimé then Yves Gire for sixth place.
On the final loop, Florian Bernardi and Boris Carminati swapped scratch times, but the latter went off again and was forced to retire just a few kilometres from the finish! Florian Bernardi sealed both the win and the title. Damien Tozlanian and Junior division winner Thibaut Poizot joined him on the podium. Guillaume Jean and José Javier Perez rounded out the top five, while Yves Gire, Pascal Aimé, Éric Filippi and Alex Sabater completed the list of finishers.
Emmanuel Guigou quickly went to the top of the order of the R3 category never to be caught despite all the efforts of Cédric Robert. Ismaël Vuistiner took top honours among those entered in Alps, finishing 3:25.1s adrift of Florian Bernardi.
The penultimate round of the Clio R3T Trophy France will be held during the running of the Rallye Cœur de France (September 28-30).
Florian Bernardi: “I am very pleased how we ran on this Mont-Blanc where we put in an excellent effort. I was a little hesitant at the start of the rally, but I came on strong at night to close in on Cédric and Manu. That put me in a good position Saturday morning, where we went with the soft tyres in order to make the difference early on. We then had to be wary of trye degradation, but we continued to battle on SS11. I spun in a fast corner while Boris went off the road. Although I had a big lead, the fight wasn’t over for the points rewarded to the best performer and we know what happened next: we won the title! After several top finishes, this championship comes in my seventh year in the promotion series’. It is a mix of satisfaction and relief, but this most notably shows that all our work has finally paid off!”
Clio R3T Trophy France – Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine
1. Florian Bernardi – Victor Bellotto – 2h00:23.7s
2. Damien Tozlanian – Romain Brun +5:36.6s
3. Thibaut Poizot – Marion Grand +6:41.7s
4. Guillaume Jean – Loris Pascaud +7:52.0s
5. José Javier Pérez – Alberto Espino +8:14.2s
6. Yves Gire – Jacques Moioli +9:21.9s
7. Pascal Aimé – Stéphanie Aimé +9:28.1s
8. Éric Filippi – Francis Mazotti +13:52.5s
9. Alex Sabater – Xavi Lozano +18:59.3s
DNF. Boris Carminati – Marine Lacruz
DNF. Mathieu Walter – Thibault Raincourt
DNF. Yann Mogno – Sylvain Mogno
General classification Clio R3T Trophy France
1. Florian Bernardi, 113 points
2. Boris Carminati, 52 points
3. Thibaut Poizot, 50 points
4. Damien Tozlanian, 46 points
5. Mathieu Walter, 35 points
6. José Javier Perez, 22 points
7. Olivier Delaporte, 21 points
8. Guillaume Jean, 20 points
9. David Nafría, 12 points
10. William Pitot, 10 points
11. Yves Gire, 8 points
12. Florent Joly, 6 points
13. Jérôme Aymard, 6 points
14. Pierre Lerosier, 6 points
15. Pascal Aimé, 6 points
16. Éric Filippi, 4 points
17. Alex Sabater, 3 points
18. Dominique Patenotte, 2 points
19. Yoann Lambert, 1 point
NC. Riquelmo Gomis
NC. Sara Williams
NC. Julien Brégeon
NC. Yann Mogno
NC. Riccardo Canzian