Thomas Chauffray dominated the opening round of the Clio Trophy France Asphalte with a faultless drive from start to finish. With the win on the Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais and the best time on the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage, the Frenchman scored maximum points to take the lead of the general classification ahead of the Rallye Vosges Grand-Est (10-12 June).
With 35 crews ready to begin their season, the battles promised to be intense throughout the field on the roads of the Pas-de-Calais department, and proof of that came on the opening stage where Thomas Chauffray and Tom Pieri set the exact same time.
While Tom Pieri lost precious seconds on the following timed-sector, Thomas Chauffray kept attacking to take the lead on SS2 before relegating Romain Di Fante to 15.6s and Antoine Massé to 18.8s heading back to the service park.
On increasingly unforgiving and tricky roads, the second loop proved to be costly with several retirements. In the top five at midday, Rémi Jouines went off the road on SS4 while Julien Baziret suffered a mechanical problem on SS5. Meanwhile, Thomas Chauffray took two more scratches to extend his lead over Romain Di Fante and Antoine Massé, who were engaged in an intense battle.
The second leg began with the longest stage on Saturday and the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage, which now rewards the fastest ten drivers. Thomas Chauffray picked up the ten points on offer. He continued to dominate on the following two stages and managed his pace to win with a 58.1s-lead over Junior Romain Di Fante with third place Antoine Massé at 1:19.0s adrift. Romain Fostier won the final two stages to take fourth place, while Francois Fraymouth finished fifth in his first drive in a Clio Rally5.
Runner-up in the 2019 Clio R3T Trophy Alps, Styve Juif took advantage of Melvin Rabilloud’s incident on SS8 to take sixth place ahead of Guillaume Canivenq and Junior category competitors Tom Pieri, Damien Mattei and Valentin Ascenzi, who all battled just until the very last kilometres. Benoit Verlinde, Tom Rensonnet and Corentin Dozot from Belgium came to prepare their Clio Trophy Belgium campaign and finished outside the top ten for a handful of seconds. Sylvain Fouteret was the highest finishing Gentleman in 17th place.
With the win and best time on the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage, Thomas Chauffray has an 11-point lead in the general classification from Romain Di Fante, with Antoine Massé another three points behind. His performance also sees Garage Carminati climb to the top of the Renault Dealership Challenge and Europe Location take the lead in the team classification.
Round two of the 2021 Clio Trophy France Asphalte season will take place on the Rallye Vosges Grand-Est (10-12 June), where the Clio Rally5s will once again compete in the FFSA French Tarmac Rally Championship.
Thomas Chauffray: "This Rallye du Touquet was anything but a walk in the park! The aim was to win to lead Europe Location Rally to the 2020 title, but Anthony and others were very fast and some of their attacks were quite incisive. I tried to react without making any mistakes, which was sometimes frustrating but also complicated on some stages like SS8. We finally reached our goal and it’s a relief after our cruel disappointment on the Cœur de France. I’m not even disappointed to have not won the title as I only contested one of the first two rounds. It would have been the icing on the cake, but I’m delighted to have won the Jean Ragnotti 2020 Best Performer trophy and to have scored maximum points in this first event of the 2021 season!"
Rallye Le Touquet – Pas-de-Calais
2021 Clio Trophy France
1. Thomas Chauffray - Anthony Hamard 1h27:08.7s
2. Romain Di Fante - Patrick Chiappe (J) +58.1s
3. Antoine Massé - Marc Haddad +1:19.0s
4. Romain Fostier - Ophelie Abchiche +1:38.9s
5. Francois Fraymouth - Romain Felicelli +1:55.6s
6. Styve Juif - Maxime Biegalke +2:38.7s
7. Guillaume Canivenq - Bastien Dumas +3:24.1s
8. Tom Pieri - Arnaud Dunand (J) +3:35.2s
9. Damien Mattei - Romain Garel (J) +3:55.8s
10. Valentin Ascenzi - William Hanoq (J) +3:58.5s
11. Benoit Verlinde - Anton Dupan (J) +4:05.1s
12. Tom Rensonnet - Renaud Herman (J) +4:08.7s
13. Corentin Dozot - Kevin Delonge (J) +4:35.5s
14. Benjamin Stirling - Florence Wehrey (J) +4:39.0s
15. Sebastien Rambaud - Aurelien Frejefond (J) +5:19.1s
16. Benoit Schulz - Fabien Ponchant +5:33.4s
17. Sylvain Fouteret - Thomas Rollion (G) +7:01.9s
18. Bertrand Blondel La Rougery - Mathieu Coppa (J) +7:59.6s
19. Emilien Sanlaville - Amaury Sanlaville (J) +8:16.3s
20. Jerome Janny - Clement Gutierrez +9:39.7s
21. Richard Paget - Sebastien Poujol (G) +10:07.5s
22. Jeremy Sarhy - Maxime Vilmot (J) +4h47:43.5s
Ab. Gilles Pyck - Emile Mourisse (J)
Ab. Melvin Rabilloud - Sebastien Dos Reis (J)
Ab. Niels Reynvoet - Willem Verbeke (J)
Ab. Louis Durand - Kevin Bruyere (J)
Ab. Julien Baziret - Delphine Laval
Ab. Maxime Braesch - Loick Andre (J)
Ab. Julien Pontal - Loan Biagetti (J)
Ab. Remy Jouines - Valentin Auge
Ab. Margot Dupuy - Clio Chambelland (F)
Ab. Battistu Ceccaldi – Alexia Desnoyer(J)
Ab. Maxime Delhommeau - Melvin Fraigne
Ab. Christophe Gouville - Thomas Coustenoble
Ab. Pierre Manuel Brasseur - Marc Sevrin