Best Junior in the Clio R3T Trophy France last year, Romain Di Fante confirmed his title-contender status by quickly adapting to New Clio Rally to take it to victory in the opening round of the Clio Trophy France. The driver from Nice was the man to beat on the roads of Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine and takes the reins of a season which promises to be extremely competitive at all levels !
Right from Friday morning, the Clio Trophy France dedicated to New Clio Rally kicked off around Morzine with 37 examples of the new sporty version of one of Renault’s most iconic car.
Quentin Ribaud set the first reference time, but Romain Di Fante answered on the following special stage to take control. Once in the lead, the native of Nice was uncatchable in extending his advantage from 2.7s to 24.2s at the end of the leg one in which he won five stages, including four consecutive.
The leader kept the momentum going on Saturday, dominating the first two of three morning stages. With a 33.2s lead prior to the final loop, last year’s runner-up to Boris Carminati even had the luxury of managing his lead before completing his success by taking a maximum of bonus points in the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage at the end of the rally.
In parallel, the battle for the podium became more and more intense. Quentin Ribaud held on to second position until SS4, where he was defeated by Romain Fostier and Rémi Jouines. A puncture on SS5 conclusively dashed his hopes, just as Rémi Jouines took the opportunity to settle down definitively in second place.
From then on, the focus shifted to the battle for third place. Consistently among the leaders, Romain Fostier had to deal with the comebacks of Antoine Massé, penalized by ten seconds for a jump start on SS1, and of Guillaume Canivenq, who posted the joint best time with Damien Mattei on SS6. The gap between the three was 8.7s after the first two stages on Saturday, but Romain Fostier responded in the afternoon to keep his rivals at bay.
Already a winner in 2019 with Renault at Mont Blanc, Romain Di Fante won for the second year in a row at Morzine with a 42.6s lead from Rémi Jouines, whose only stage win came on SS11. Romain Fostier completed the podium, 14.6s further back. Guillaume Canivenq overtook Antoine Massé on SS9 to slot in fourth.
Victor Cartier thought he had done enough to finish sixth and second in the Junior category after setting the benchmark time on the penultimate stage, but Brandon Maïsano – who had set the best time two tests earlier – nicked the position for three seconds in the Power Stage. Last year’s Clio R3T France title winner Boris Carminati finished eighth ahead of Julien Baziret and Ismaël Vuistiner.
Leader from start to finish in the Gentleman category, Thierry Monnet won with a 1:36.0s advantage from Frédéric Perrard and Dominique Patenotte at more than three minutes.
Contested on the longest stage of the second leg, the Jean Ragnotti Power Stage was won by Romain Di Fante, who scored five bonus points. Antoine Massé and Brandon Maïsano scored four and three points respectively, while Guillaume Canivenq and Romain Fostier picked up the final points on offer.
In the teams’ classification, Naudon Rallye Service lead from Chazel Technologie Course and Europe Location, while Garage de Sousa lead the ‘Renault Dealership Challenge’ after the opening round of the season.
Romain Di Fante thus begins his campaign with a perfect score, but the first edition of the Clio Trophy France promises to be extremely open and competitive. In addition to the extremely close gaps on each special stage, seven drivers set at least one fastest time. With a top ten at the end of this first round covered by less than 0.8s per kilometer and the outstanding reliability of New Clio Rally seen on the roads of Mont-Blanc, all these protagonists will be able to make the most of their chances and put on an incredible show at the next round at the Rallye Cœur de France (September 25-27).
Romain Di Fante : “I couldn’t possibly be any happier after this second victory in two years, because I really like the Mont-Blanc rally for its beauty, the setting and the terrific atmosphere. We started this very particular campaign with a philosophy that is a bit different from previous seasons, most notably by being more cautious. This year, I’m only focusing on topping the Junior category. We pushed until the fifth stage when our main competitor until then, Quentin Ribaud, had a puncture. From that moment on, I didn’t really focus on those behind me, but I was enjoying myself so much that the times just came. This new Clio is very well born. It inspires confidence and it is just an awesome pleasure to drive ! It was also fabulous to score maximum points with the best time in the Power Stage, because that wasn’t the goal at all at the start. This first rally bodes well for the future and I’m already looking forward to the Cœur de France !”
Rallye Mont-Blanc Morzine – Clio Trophy France 1. Romain Di Fante – Jules Escartefigue (J) 1h53:36.5s 2. Rémi Jouines – Arnaud Maheo +42.6s 3. Romain Fostier – Ophélie Abchiche +57.2s 4. Guillaume Canivenq – Bastien Dumas +1:03.5s 5. Antoine Massé – Gwenola Marie +1:05.5s 6. Brandon Maïsano – Pierre Pebeyre (J) +1:20.2s 7. Victor Cartier – Marine Maye (J) +1:23.2s 8. Boris Carminati – Maxime Biegalke +1:51.1s 9. Julien Baziret – Thomas Chauffray +2:02.1s 10. Ismael Vuistiner – Florine Krummer +2:09.7s 11. Cedric Noe – Alex Vignolle +2:49.5s 12. Dorian Nicolas – Guillaume Mercoiret +3:20.3s 13. Benjamin Stirling – Florence Wehrey (J) +3:27.1s 14. Jonathan Grande – Sandrine Guirado (J) +4:38.3s 15. Ange-Marie Damerval – Gilles Cler (J) +4:53.7s 16. Sébastien Rambaud – Aurelien Frejefond (J) +6:03.4s 17. Maxime Braesch – Andre Loick (J) +6:15.2s 18. Thierry Monnet – Quentin Saxemard (G) +6:4s4.8s 19. David Erard – Sarah Junod (J) +7:10.8s 20. Frédéric Perrard – Francois Gilbert (G) +8:20.8s 21. Maxime Delhommeau – Valentin Goutel +8:48.8s 22. Dominique Patenotte – Nicolas Jeudy (G) +10:21.4s 23. Boris Ruffa – Raphael Ruffa +12:16.2s 24. Maude Studer – Amélie Pierron (F) +13:53.4s 25. Ghjuvanni Rossi – Baptiste Volpei (J) +14:03.5s 26. Christophe Nosjean – Victor Joly +14:40.1s 27. Alain Aguillon – Sonny Postel (G) +21:17.9s 28. Mathias De Sousa – Marie Corbineau +3h55:08.1s Ret. Jean Jouines – Mathieu Favreau (J) Ret. Quentin Ribaud – Melissa Ascensio (J) Ret. Damien Mattei – Romain Garel (J) Ret Kévin Bessi – Albert Rougemaille (J) Ret. Alexis Frontier – Jeremy Gulino Ret. Loïc Mattei – Dominique Corvi Ret. Anthony Fotia – Didier Sirugue (J) Ret. Emilien Sanlaville – Amaury Sanlaville (J) Ret. Maxime Gibaud – Thibault Glasson-Blanchet (J)